WASHINGTON: The Pentagon on Saturday announced the transfer of nine Yemeni inmates from Guantanamo Bay to Saudi Arabia, bringing the remaining population at the controversial military prison down to 80.
The United States has in recent months accelerated the rate at which detainees who have been approved for transfer are released from the facility, which President Barack Obama wants to close before his term ends at the end of the year. Saturday’s release marks the largest transfer since 10 Yemenis were sent to Oman in January. It is the first time Saudi Arabia has taken any former Guantanamo inmates.
“The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The men arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier on Saturday. Most had been cleared for release years ago, but faced delays owing in part to their home country descending into civil war.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2016.