Three of the detainees are sent to Georgia
The other two are sent to Slovakia
The five were approved for transfer by a task force that looked at security risk
One detainee is a Yemeni who had been held for more than 10 years
Five detainees at Guantanamo Bay were transferred to the nations of Slovakia or Georgia as part of the U.S. plan to reduce the facility’s population of detainees who were suspected of terrorism after the September 11, 2001, attacks, officials said Thursday.
All five detainees “were approved for transfer by consensus of” a review task force that also looked at security issues, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.
As of Thursday, 143 detainees remain at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, the Pentagon said. That number compares to the facility’s population height of more than 750 people after it began accepting post-9/11 prisoners.
Three of the detainees – Salah Mohammed Salih Al-Dhabi, Abdel Ghaib Ahmad Hakim, and Abdul Khaled Al-Baydani – are slated to be sent to Georgia, in the Caucasus region at the border of Europe and Asia.
The other two – Hashim Bin Ali Bin Amor Sliti and Husayn Salim Muhammad Al-Mutari Yafai – are scheduled to be transferred to Slovakia in Central Europe.
Hakim was represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, which identified him as Abd Al Hakim Ghalib Ahmad Alhag.
Alhag (Hakim), who is from Yemen, had been detained for more than 10 years and been cleared for release “for years,” but his transfer was delayed “as the U.S. inexplicably opposed his release in court,” the center charged.
“The U.S. finally transferred him on the eve of new litigation by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging his continued indefinite detention based on or because of his Yemeni citizenship. Such arbitrary detention violates U.S. and international law, including the Geneva Conventions, which the U.S. is obligated to uphold,” the center said.
Attorneys for the center praised Alhag’s transfer out of Gitmo.
“We are grateful to the Republic of Georgia for offering our client a new home where he can begin to rebuild his life after more than a decade in Guantanamo without charge or trial,” the center said in a statement.
Of the 143 men in Guantanamo, 84 are from Yemen, and 54 of them have been approved for transfer, the center said.
Alhag’s transfer makes him the first Yemeni to be released since 2010, the center said.
In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that detainees have a constitutional right to challenge their detention, and the following year, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to close the detention facility within a year, which has been delayed due to difficulties in relocating the prisoners.
Last May, the U.S. government transferred five detainees to Qatar in exchange for the Taliban’s release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive for five years.