US transfers 6 Yemeni Guantanamo detainees to Oman
For the first time in six months, prisoners held without trial at the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center have been flown out of Cuba. The Pentagon has announced that six Yemeni men have been transferred to Oman.
"The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Al Khadr Abdallah Muhammad Al Yafi, Fadel Hussein Saleh Hentif, Abd Al-Rahman Abdullah Au Shabati, and Mohammed Ahmed Salam from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to Oman," the US Department of Defense said in a statement on Saturday.
They had been cleared to leave for years after first being taken into custody in 2002. The departures now leave 116 detainees imprisoned in Guantanamo.
No further large transfers are imminent, a senior US official told Reuters, adding that efforts continue to repatriate prisoners or settle them elsewhere.
President Obama’s pledge to shut down the facility has continually been thwarted by the Republican-dominated Congress, which outlawed bringing any detainees onto domestic soil. That means if prisoners are to be released, they must be sent to their home nation, or more usually, a third country.
Uruguay is one such recipient. The South American nation earlier took in six detainees from Guantanamo, but a dispute between the men and the Uruguayan authorities over the terms of the move led to protests outside the US embassy in Montevideo.
A former Guantanamo prisoner also died in Kazakhstan last month. He had been resettled there after 11 years in Guantanamo. Pentagon did not provide the cause of his death, but the British newspaper the Guardian reported that it was from kidney failure, citing another former prisoner.
Guantanamo Bay was opened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush. But it has been mired in scandal throughout its history with allegations of torture and sexual abuse.
This year, the current administration reiterated its intent to empty the jail by 2017 - the end of Obama's presidency.