The Department of Defense announced that they would release nine Guantanamo Bay prisoners to Saudi Arabia.
Eight years ago, President Obama made a promise to close the controversial Guantemono Bay military prison, located in Cuba. Nearly two terms later, the detention camp that has facilitated the illegal indefinite detainment and torture of countless men–some who were never charged with a crime–is still open.
Last week however, the Department of Defense made the announcement that nine men would be released to Saudi Arabia.
“The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the statement said.
Efforts have been made to close Guantanamo since before the Obama administration, when Bush was in office.
According to the Department of Defense, the men that will be released are: 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.
Over a year ago, last February, Obama proposed his plan to close the prison to Congress. The plan included transferring prisoners to other countries, and transferring those deemed still dangerous to another U.S detention facility.
The release of the nine prisoners that was announced last week aligns with President Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia. It also comes amidst tensions between the U.S and Saudi Arabia over a proposed bill that would allow for the family members of 9/11 victims to sue the Saudi government for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
One of the prisoners that will be released, Tariq Ali Abdullah Ahmed Ba Odah, has been on a hunger strike and force-fed since 2007.
The prisoner release is being critiqued by many politicians and political analysts, which comes as no surprise. According to Paul Lewis, the special DoD Guantanamo envoy, the released detainees have taken part in attacks that claimed American lives.
Still, others like Charlie Savage are saying the the transfer of prisoners to Saudi Arabia is a major step in closing the prison. Efforts to have Saudi Arabia accept Guantanamo detainees began while George W. Bush was in office, and was only agreed open this February.
A total of 775 men have been detained at Guantanamo, and most have been released without charge. As of this month, there 80 detainees still left.
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