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A dozen Gitmo detainees sent to 3 countries

A dozen Gitmo detainees sent to 3 countries

A group of detainees pray at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center, earlier this year.

Washington (CNN) — Twelve detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were transferred to Afghanistan, Yemen and Somaliland, the U.S. Justice Department said Sunday.

The moves bring the total number of detainees held at Guantanamo to just under 200.

Four Afghan detainees were transferred to the Afghan government, the Justice Department said. Two Somali detainees were sent to Somaliland, and six Yemeni detainees were moved to Yemen.

The Yemeni detainees arrived Saturday in Yemen, the Yemen News Agency SABA reported, citing a spokesman from the Yemeni Embassy in Washington.

“The delivery of these detainees came as a result of the efforts exerted by Yemen in order to release all Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay and repatriate them to the homeland,” SABA said, quoting spokesman Mohamed al-Basha.

Khaled al-Katheri, a political official in the embassy, told SABA, “The embassy is still intensifying its efforts toward releasing the other Yemeni detainees via meeting the American officials at all levels and continuous communication and coordination with the detainees’ lawyers.”

In a statement, the government of Somaliland said the Somaliland Security Agency processed two nationals before releasing them to their families. Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991 and “advocates independence for the northwestern portion of the Somali Democratic Republic,” according to its Web site.

The interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force reviewed the cases, the Justice Department said, and the detainees were approved for transfer after the review, which examined factors such as potential threat, mitigation measures and the likelihood of success in habeas corpus litigation, or asking a judge to review a person’s detention.

“The transfers were carried out under individual arrangements between the United States and relevant foreign authorities to ensure the transfers took place under appropriate security measures,” the department said. “Consultations with foreign authorities regarding these individuals will continue.”

Since 2002, more than 560 detainees have departed Guantanamo Bay for destinations including 36 countries, the Justice Department said.

President Obama has acknowledged he will be unable to meet his goal of emptying and closing the Guantanamo detention facility by his January 22 target date.


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