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For Gitmo detainee, rare phone call home to Saudi Arabia

Saudi family members are allowed to speak annually to those detained as 'enemy combatants' by the US

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Abdulhadi al-Marri spoke firmly into the phone, reassuring the man US officials say is a "sleeper" Al Qaeda operative that a family member was doing well.

"He's with us .... He's fine," Mr. Marri told his younger brother, Ali Saleh al-Marri, who was listening from the US naval base in Charleston, S.C.

Having assuaged his detained brother's concerns about one of his sons, Marri ended the hour-long call arranged by the Saudi Red Crescent Society, a humanitarian organization.

Eighteen family members had driven to Riyadh to speak with their relative, held without charge for more than six years. An "enemy combatant," Ali al-Marri is in a military prison because, unlike Guantánamo inmates, he was arrested in the United States.

Abdulhadi al-Marri said later that he does not believe the US charges. But if his brother has done wrong, he added, the US should charge and sentence him. "I am ashamed because this United States is [supposed to be] a humanitarian state," he said. "It's just the opposite."

The Saudi Red Crescent Society has organized similar calls for half a dozen Saudi detainees at Guantánamo, according to the society's international relations director, Muwaffak al-Bayouk.

That followed a decision by the Defense Department to permit inmates one phone call a year to family, he said.

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