Yasser Esam Hamdi has produced a birth certificate that apparently confirms he was born in Louisiana. The 22-year-old Hamdi reportedly moved to Saudi Arabia as a boy when his parents returned to their native land.
“I think they feel pretty strongly that they have confirmed that” Hamdi is a U.S. citizen, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told a news briefing. “The Department of Justice has a birth certificate that indicates he was born in Baton Rouge.”
The U.S. has not made any decision whether or how to prosecute Hamdi. Since he is a U.S. citizen, he will not face a military tribunal.
American officials are expected to move Hamdi from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to a detention facility in the U.S. on Thursday. One Pentagon official told Reuters that Hamdi would be kept at a defense facility while the government decided what to do with him.
“I wouldn’t make predictions about what we do with him,” Clarke said. “I hope to be able to say later today what the next step will be with him.”
Hamdi reportedly first claimed he is a U.S. citizen after he was captured during a prison riot that killed a CIA agent in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. It is unclear why it took the U.S. more than four months to confirm his potential U.S. citizenship.
Defense Department officials said they were still examining whether Hamdi had done anything to specifically undermine his claim of U.S. citizenship.
“I can’t talk about what they have heard from him in the interrogations thus far, just that he was part of the group that they gathered up after the Mazar-e-Sharif uprising,” Clarke said.
American John Lindh was also among the group detained after the prison riot last November. Lindh, a 21-year-old Californian, is facing trial on charges of conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, providing support and services to foreign terrorist organizations and using firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence.