WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Russian captured while fighting with militants in Afghanistan and held by the U.S. military there, will be flown to the United States to face terrorism charges, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The detainee was identified by the officials as the prisoner known as Irek Hamidullan. He was captured in 2009 and has been held at a detention facility at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.
The officials said Hamidullan would be transferred to the United States for trial on unspecified terrorism charges. It would mark the first time a foreign combatant captured in Afghanistan would be brought to the United States for trial.
Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, confirmed that a detainee at the Parwan detention facility at Bagram will be brought to the United States to stand trial. She would not disclose the identity.
Meehan said the decision was based on a bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that takes effect on Jan. 1. Under the agreement, the United States will not maintain or operate detention facilities in Afghanistan.
“The president’s national security team examined this matter and unanimously agreed that prosecution of this detainee in federal court was the best disposition option in this case,” she said.
President Barack Obama would like some detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be brought to the United States for trial, but that option has been blocked by Congress.
Hamidullan is suspected of involvement in attacks in which Americans were wounded or killed in 2009. He is believed to be among 13 foreign nationals at the Parwan facility.
Meehan defended the decision to transfer the detainee to the United States, saying the U.S. criminal justice system “has repeatedly proven that it has the flexibility to successfully handle all variations of the threat that we continue to face.”
Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Steve Holland; Editing by David Storey, Lisa Shumaker and Bernard Orr