Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Saudi Arabia released the names and identities of two of its citizens who died whilst in captivity in Guantanamo Bay on Saturday.
Yasser Talal al Zahrani and Maneh Shaman al Utaybi, and a third detainee from Yemen, allegedly died after committed suicide, according to the US prison authority. For its part, Saudi Arabia expressed reservations about the official account and refused to refer to the men as “suicide victims”.
Asharq al Awsat has learnt that the Saudi authorities have made an official request to their American counterparts to hand over the bodies of the former detainees and identify the exact causes of their death.
Lawyers in the Kingdom cast doubt on the suicide account and said the two men had probably died because of the rioting that took place in the prison three weeks ago, where prisoners attacked their captors.
For his part, Lieutenant Talal al Zahrani, Yasser’s father, told Asharq al Awsat that he trusted his son did not commit suicide and said the US account was “a lie”.
He said he reserved his right to take the US administration to court, but would await the autopsy results to confirm how his son died, before taking any action.
According to al Zahrani, all former Saudi detainees in Guantanamo Bay who have returned home after being released had told him his son was quiet and strong-willed. “Yasser used to even give his captors lessons in Islam and used his time in prison to memorize the Quran”, he said.
The 22-year-old, from the western city of Yunbu, left Saudi Arabia for Afghanistan in 2001, in order to assist with ongoing aid efforts. Border tribes detained him before being sold to the US military, his father said.
Al Utaybi, aged 30, was born in al Qarara in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, Kateb al Shamari, who represented Saudi detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Cast doubt on the US version of events and called for the creation of an independent committee to investigate the circumstances in which the three detainees died.
The US defense ministry stated last month that Guantanamo bay prison holds 558 prisoners, 132 of whom are Saudis