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U.S. Transfers 5 Guantanamo Detainees To Kazakhstan

The United States has released five more detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Pentagon said the three Yemenis and two Tunisians were transferred to Kazakhstan. The detainees are the latest in what's been a flurry of releases over the past few months.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the interagency task force charged with reviewing detainee releases had approved the transfer of these five men "unanimously."

"In accordance with statutory requirements, the secretary of defense informed Congress of the United States' intent to transfer these individuals and of his determination that this transfer meets the statutory standard," the Pentagon said.

President Obama has said he intends to close the facility at Guantanamo.

Reuters adds:

"Obama continues to face obstacles posed by Congress to the goal of emptying the prison before he leaves office, not least of which is a ban on transfer of prisoners to the U.S. mainland.

"All five men were detained on suspicion of links to al Qaeda or allied groups, but the U.S. official said investigations had determined they 'could be described as low-level, if even that.' "

The Pentagon named the men being resettled as: Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna, Sabri Muhammad Ibrahim Al Qurashi, Adel Al-Hakeemy, and Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Lufti.

The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg, who covers Guantanamo for the newspaper, said all five men had been cleared for release in 2009 and none of them had ever been charged with a crime.

Rosenberg reports that overnight they left as they had come: "in shackles with blindfolds and ears muffled. U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity while the transfer mission was underway, said the five were first flown from the base in a C-17 Monday but the pilot circled back about 90 minutes later because of mechanical problems."

There are still 127 detainees left at Guantanamo.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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