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15 Guantanamo Bay Detainees Transferred To United Arab Emirates

Fifteen prisoners at Guantanamo Bay have been transferred to the United Arab Emirates — the largest single release of the Obama administration.

The population of the military prison in Cuba is now down to 61.

President Barack Obama has long vowed to close Guantanamo, but efforts to transfer prisoners to the U.S. have been blocked by Congress. As a result, any release must be coordinated with another country. That poses a particular challenge for detainees fromplaces like Yemen, where the U.S. won’t repatriate prisoners because of security concerns, as a third country must be found that is willing to resettle them.

Twelve of the prisoners released on Monday were from Yemen; the other three were from Afghanistan.

The UAE has accepted released prisoners twice before — one UAE citizen repatriated in 2008 and five Yemenis resettled last year. The Yemenis previously sent to the UAE are believed to have been placed in a government-run rehabilitation and monitoring program, The Associated Press reports, although details are unclear.

With the new transfer, the UAE has taken in a total of 20 prisoners for resettlement. Oman has also resettled 20; no other country has accepted so many non-native Guantanamo detainees.

Six of the newly released prisoners had been approved for transfer for more than six years — the Guantanamo Review Task Force, which reviewed cases starting in 2009, had unanimously approved them, the Department of Defense said in a press release.

The other 12 prisoners, including all three Afghans, were cleared for release by the Period Review Board between January 2014 and May of this year.

Two of the Afghan prisoners — Mohammed Kamin and Obaidallah, who only has one name — had been briefly charged in a military commission, The Miami Herald reports. The war crimes prosecutor dropped those charges.

Read more at NPR

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