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US sends three Guantanamo detainees to Saudi Arabia

Latest update : 2009-06-13

The US Justice Department has announced that three Saudi nationals have been sent from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp back to Saudi Arabia, in another step towards fulfilling President Barack Obama's pledge to close the prison.

AFP - The US Justice Department announced Friday that three Saudi nationals had been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp back to Saudi Arabia, where they will undergo a "rehabilitation program."
Khalid Saad Mohammed, Abdalaziz Kareem Salim Al Noofayaee, and Ahmed Zaid Salim Zuhair were approved for transfer following the case review ordered by President Barack Obama, the department said in a statement.
These detainees had already been "previously cleared for transfer by the prior administration" of president George W. Bush, the statement read.
"With these latest transfers, the US government has moved nine detainees over the course of this week to locations in Bermuda, Chad, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia," said Matthew Olsen, head of the Obama administration's Guantanamo Review Task Force.
"This marks the largest number of transfers in a single week in well over a year and occurred, in large part, due to the willingness of foreign governments to work closely with the United States on this important issue and to assist in the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," he added.
Any inmates transferred to Saudi Arabia are subject to judicial review before they undergo a rehabilitation program in the country, during which time they remain under the Saudi government's control, the Justice Department said.
The Guantanamo camp in remote southeastern Cuba was established in 2002 to house "war on terror" detainees by then president George W. Bush.
Since 2002, more than 540 detainees have been transferred from Guantanamo to at least 30 countries, the Justice Department said.
Obama has vowed to shut the facility by January 2010.
Many of the inmates have already been cleared for release, but US officials are having difficulty finding countries that will take them in, and meeting resistance at home to housing them on US soil.
The tiny Pacific nation of Palau agreed Wednesday to take in up to 17 Uighur Guantanamo detainees. The United States Thursday sent four Uighur men who had been held at the prison camp in Cuba to Bermuda.
US authorities are reportedly nearing a deal that would see many of the more than 100 Yemenis held at Guantanamo sent to Saudi Arabia, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.
Citing persons involved in the negotiations, senior officials at the White House and the Central Intelligence Agency have been talking with the Yemeni and Saudi governments about sending some of the Yemeni detainees to Saudi Arabia.
Obama personally addressed the issue with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in a May phone call, the Journal reported.
Sanna has demanded all its nationals detained at Guantanamo Bay be repatriated, but Washington has balked at sending them back to Yemen because it believes the government there would be unable to keep track of them, according to the paper.
The Journal said the talks centered on a first group of some 20 Yemenis to be transferred to Saudi Arabia, quoting an unnamed US official working on the matter as saying a compromise was in the works.

Date created : 2009-06-13