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Pentagon returns prisoner to Egypt

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

The Pentagon has returned to Egypt a man who had been held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison camp for terrorism suspects – even though human rights activists had opposed his repatriation.

Sami al-Laithi, 48, was repatriated despite pending motions to ban Guantanamo prisoners from being sent to Egypt for fear they would face human rights abuses, said the New York Center for Constitutional Rights, which champions Guantanamo cases, in a statement issued Monday.

Amnesty International had likewise championed his case, describing Laithi as a former teacher who “is confined to a wheelchair as a result of a spinal injury which he says was caused when U.S. officials at the Guantanamo Bay hospital stomped on his back, fracturing two vertebrae.”

Bush administration officials had shielded the prisoner’s identity, but said in an announcement over the weekend that he was one of several dozen Guantanamo prisoners ordered released through a Defense Department process called Combatant Status Review Tribunals. The tribunals studied the captives’ classified files and found 38 prisoners who did not meet the Pentagon’s minimum standards for indefinite detention.

Bishop ‘ready to die’ over river in Brazil

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil A Catholic bishop on a hunger strike to protest plans to alter the course of a river to irrigate parts of Brazil’s arid northeast said Monday he was “ready to die” if the project goes forward.

Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio has said changing the river’s course will be fatal for areas deprived of water. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was born in one of the drought-stricken regions that would benefit from the altered course of the Sao Francisco River, wrote the bishop a letter saying the $2 billion project will help 18 million people in northeastern Brazil.

Cappio said he would “maintain the hunger strike until death” and pledged to “give my life for the Sao Francisco River.” The river now winds some 1,600 miles through the Brazil’s sparsely populated Northeast to the Atlantic.

Cappio, 59, of Barra, some 1,100 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro, began his strike on Sept. 26, over opposition from Brazil’s Roman Catholic Church, which condemns a gesture that threatens Cappio’s own life.

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