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Six Guantanamo detainees released at time of prison’s uncertain future

Six Yemeni inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility have been released to Oman where they have been accepted for resettlement.

The second release in 2015 leaves the controversial prison with 116 current inmates, of which more than half are Yemeni citizens.

The Pentagon announced on Saturday that the six men were flown to Oman. According to the statement, the US Department of Defense expressed its gratitude towards Oman “support[ing] ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility”. The men had been held captive by the US military for approximately 13 years.

Idris Ahmad ‘Abd Al Qadir Idris, Sharaf Ahmad Muhammad Mas’ud, Jalal Salam Awad Awad, Saa’d Nasser Moqbil Al Azani, Emad Abdallah Hassan, and Muhammad Ali Salem Al Zarnuki have all been cleared for release in the early years of Obama’s presidency. Mr Hassan has been protesting against his detention without charge with frequent hunger strikes since 2002. He has been force-fed over 5,000 times and has filed a lawsuit against President Obama earlier this year.

While the prison population has dropped to half from the day President Obama was sworn into office, the chances are low that all prisoners will be released before his term runs out, making him unable to fulfil this crucial election promise.

Top candidates for the US presidential election to be held next year have not shared Obama’s view on the detention centre.

Republican candidate favourite, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, said in an interview with ABC News that he wished to reopen the prison, if Obama did manage to shut it in his remaining 20 months in office. “The recent history of people being released from Guantanamo is atrocious,” said Rubio during the interview conducted in April of this year, claiming that the prisoners continue to pose a threat to the US and the world, and emphasising the value of interrogation.

While supporting the effort to close the facility, Democratic Party candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton promised in 2012 that she would hesitate to release any prisoner without full support from Congress.

Another 50 of the remaining inmates held at the US Naval base in Cuba have been cleared for release or transfer, including Shaker Aamer, the only remaining UK citizen in the prison.

Oman has now accepted a total of 10 Guantanamo detainees. Only a few men have been repatriated, the majority has been transferred to third party states. Among the countries receiving detainees are Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Bermuda, Palau and the Cape Verde, alongside several European countries.

 

Elisabeth Brahier

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