Tunisian Secretary of State for American and Asian Affairs, Hedi Ben Abbes, stated in an interview with Tunisia Live that the five Tunisians still remaining in the U.S Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay will be back to Tunisia by the end of this year.
“We expect an American delegation to come to Tunisia beginning of September, and hopefully – I cross my fingers – they will be brought home before the end of the year,” said Ben Abbes.
Ben Abbes headed a three person delegation that traveled to Guantanamo last week to discuss the possibility of releasing the five remaining Tunisian detainees.
Five Tunisian citizens, never given a trial or formally charged with a crime, remain in the notorious detention center despite having been cleared for release by U.S. authorities under the Bush administration.
According to Ben Abbes, the situation facing these Tunisians is complicated, and it may take some time to secure their release. ”We’ve been working on this issue for six months. The situation is bit sophisticated, if not complicated…There are no charges against them [the Tunisian detainees]. These people were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are detainees, not prisoners,” said Ben Abbes.
“It is not a matter of weeks, it is a matter of a few months,” he added.
Ben Abbes said that, during his visit, he conducted a 45 minute interview with each of Tunisians held at the facility, and, according to him, their situation has improved significantly. “Their situation has improved. They have a number of facilities, they watch TV, listen to the radio.. During the interview, they were informed of what is happening in Tunisia. They were in good shape physically. Mentally they were really strong. They are believers, their strong beliefs have shielded them,” explained Ben Abbes.