Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Hamdan, is to be transferred from the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay to his home country of Yemen, a decision which may pave the way towards freeing 100 other Yemenis.
A Yemeni diplomatic source said Tuesday that Hamdan was expected in Yemen "within this week" and a U.S. administration official also confirmed the transfer.
Hamdan, who won a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2006 that struck down U.S. President George W. Bush's first military tribunal system, was expected to arrive within 48 hours in Yemen's capital, Sanaa. He is to serve out the remaining month of his military commission sentence in a Yemeni prison, the newspaper said.
A military commission in August convicted Hamdan of supporting terrorism but acquitted him on more serious charges of conspiring with al-Qaeda to wage murderous attacks, in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War Two.
The trial of Hamdan at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba was the first full test of the controversial military tribunal system authorized by the Bush administration to try foreign captives on terrorism charges outside the regular U.S. court system.
Hamdan was convicted of providing personal services in support of terrorism, specifically driving, guarding and ferrying weapons for a man he knew to be the leader of al-Qaeda, an international terrorist organization.
Hamdan was captured in November 2001 at a roadblock in Afghanistan, not long after the U.S. invasion that followed the September 11 attacks.
Held as a suspected terrorist at Guantanamo, he won a Supreme Court case in June 2006 that struck down the Bush administration's first trial system there and prompted Congress to rewrite the rules.
The Guantanamo tribunals were set up to try non-American captives whom the Bush administration considers "enemy combatants" and not entitled to the legal protections granted to soldiers and civilians.
Washington to date has not been able to reach a deal with Yemen for the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo. About 100 of the remaining 250 detainees at the "war on terror" detention camp are Yemeni.