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Guantanamo Prisoner's Mother Says Son Fears Returning To Russia

Ravil Mingazov during his millitary service
Ravil Mingazov during his millitary service
CHALLY, Russia -- The mother of the last Russian citizen being held at Guantanamo Bay says he does not want to return to Tatarstan because he fears he will be mistreated in Russian custody, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

Zuhra Waliullina, the mother of Ravil Mingazov, told RFE/RL on May 17 from Tatarstan that her son feared being "tortured" as another Guantanamo detainee who returned to Russia after his release from the U.S. detention center in Cuba alleged.

She added that he wanted to settle in a predominantly Muslim country.

A U.S. federal court in Washington ruled last week that Mingazov, who has been imprisoned at Guantanamo since 2002, must be released by June 15 as the government has no reason to detain him.

Mingazov, 42, is the last of eight Russian citizens from Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Chelyabinsk, and Tyumen who were held prisoner at Guantanamo. The other seven were transferred to Russia in 2004.

Two cities in Massachusetts, Amherst and Leverett, have passed resolutions offering Mingazov and one other detainee residence in their communities if the U.S. government were to allow it.

Mingazov, who fled Russia after converting to Islam, was captured in Pakistan in 2002. The U.S. military claimed he was staying at a safe house belonging to suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah at the time of his capture and had undergone training to become a terrorist.

Mingazov claims he was captured in a guest house for refugees and denies having known Zubaydah or even having seen Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Mingazov was a ballet and folk dancer in a Russian Army ensemble in the early 2000s. He said he left Russia for religious reasons.

Rasul Kudayev, one of the seven other detainees who returned to Russia, was arrested after a militant attack in Nalchik in October 2005. Kudayev, his mother, and his lawyer said after his arrest that he had been beaten and tortured in jail. Security officials denied the charges.

Ruslan Odizhev, another Guantanamo detainee who returned to Russia in 2004, joined a North Caucasus insurgent group and was killed in 2007.

And ex-Guantanamo detainees Timur Ishmuradov and Ravil Gumarov, both Tatars, were convicted and sentenced in May 2006 to 11-15 years in prison for taking part in a January 2005 attack on an oil pipeline.