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Bin Laden's former driver moved to Yemen jail

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  • Salim Ahmed Hamdan transferred to Yemen to serve final weeks of sentence
  • Osama bin Laden's ex-driver was convicted in August of aiding al Qaeda
  • He was cleared of more serious terrorism conspiracy charges
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(CNN) -- The former driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden has been transferred to Yemen, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Osama bin Laden's ex-driver, Salim Hamdan, will serve the rest of his sentence in Yemen, sources say.

Salim Hamdan, who has been held at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for years, will serve out the final weeks of his sentence in his native Yemen.

He was the first person to be tried by a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.

In August, a U.S. military commission convicted him of a war crime -- providing material support to al Qaeda -- but cleared him of more serious terrorism conspiracy charges.

Hamdan was found guilty of being the terrorist leader's bodyguard and driver, and of receiving weapons training and transporting and delivering arms.

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The commission rejected charges, however, that Hamdan conspired with others in carrying out al Qaeda attacks, including those of September 11, 2001.

Hamdan received a 66-month prison sentence, which was due to be completed by the end of the year because he received credit for time served before being found guilty.

A Yemeni security source confirmed to CNN that Hamdan had arrived and been sent to a political prison to serve the rest of his sentence. The source asked not to be named.

Hamdan was taken into custody in southern Afghanistan in November 2001, driving a car that contained missiles. He maintained that the car was borrowed and the missiles weren't his.

During his trial this summer, prosecutors argued Hamdan became a member of al Qaeda in 1996 and conspired with the group on terrorist attacks.

They alleged that Hamdan overheard conversations about the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States and had other information that showed he was part of bin Laden's inner circle.

The defense contended that Hamdan was a low-level driver who knew little about the workings of bin Laden's al Qaeda network. They said he worked for wages, not to wage war against America.

Hamdan testified that he was "shocked" when he found out about the September 11 attacks, and expressed sorrow as he pleaded for leniency at a sentencing hearing in Guantanamo Bay.

"It was impossible in my mind that Osama bin Laden would be behind it," said Hamdan, who was still working for bin Laden at the time of the attacks. "My view and my thinking had changed completely. It was big shock for me when someone had treated you with respect and regard, and then you realize what they were up to," he told a military court that was to deliberate on his sentencing.


"It was a sorry or sad thing to see innocent people killed. I don't know what could be given or presented to these innocent people who were killed in the U.S.," Hamdan said, speaking through an Arab-language translator. "I personally present my apologies to them, if anything what I did have caused them pain," he said.

Approximately 250 detainees remain at Guantanamo, the military says, down from a peak of about 750 detainees.

CNN's Caroline Faraj in Dubai contributed to this report.

All About Guantanamo BaySalim Ahmed HamdanTerrorismOsama bin Laden

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