US moves prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to United Arab Emirates

Fifteen prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre were sent to the United Arab Emirates in the single largest release of detainees during the Obama administration, the Pentagon announced yesterday.

The transfer of 12 Yemeni nationals and three Afghans to the UAE comes amid a renewed push to whittle down the number of detainees held at the US prison in Cuba that president Barack Obama aims to close.

The Pentagon says that 61 detainees now remain at Guantanamo, which was opened in January 2002 to hold foreign fighters suspected of links to the Taliban or the al-Qaida terrorist organisation.

During the Bush administration, 532 prisoners were released from Guantanamo, often in large groups to Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.

The latest batch of released prisoners had been held without charge at Guantanamo, some for more than 14 years.

They were cleared for release by the Periodic Review Board, comprising representatives from six US government agencies.

The UAE successfully resettled five detainees transferred there last year, according to the Pentagon.

In July 2008, the seven-emirate nation also repatriated UAE citizen and Guantanamo prisoner Abdulah Alhamiri at the same time that Afghanistan and Qatar each accepted a prisoner apiece.

In the United Arab Emirates, the state-run Wam news agency had no reports on the transfers and UAE officials declined to immediately comment on the Pentagon announcement.

The UAEs is a major regional military ally for the US, as it hosts American military personnel targetting Islamic State with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.


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