Nine Yemeni inmates held for years in the notorious US military’s Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba have been transferred to Saudi Arabia
ahead of a visit to the Persian Gulf kingdom by US President Barack Obama.
Announcing the move on Saturday, US Defense Department said the transfer — the largest from the facility since 10 Yemenis were sent to Oman in January – marked the first time the Saudi regime has accepted any Guantanamo captives.
The release came just ahead of Obama’s planned visit to Saudi Arabia next week and as the result of years of negotiations with the kingdom.
According to the Pentagon, all of the former captives will be subjected to a Saudi “rehabilitation and de-radicalization program.”
File photo of Guantanamo military prison taken during an escorted visit shows an unidentified captive walking in a “exercise yard” of the facility.
“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 added in a statement.
The Yemeni men arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday and were identified as: Ahmed Umar Abdullah al-Hikimi, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh Nasir, Ali Yahya Mahdi al-Raimi, Tariq Ali Abdullah Ahmed Ba Odah, Muhammed Abdullah Muhammed al-Hamiri, Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman, Abd al-Rahman al-Qyati, Mansour Muhammed Ali al-Qatta, and Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed al-Sabri.
The transfer brought the remaining population of the controversial prison down to 80.
The military installation has held nearly 780 captives in all since it was opened shortly after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. All the inmates were held without any formal charges and the right to legal representation.