The five men from Yemen, Somalia and Kenya are among 39 detainees still being held by the US in infamous facility in Cuba.
The United States has released five more prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay military facility, although this does not mean that they will soon leave the controversial prison.
Three of the five detainees is from Yemen, one is from Somalia, and the other is from Kenya, according to documents posted online this week by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Together, the men spent 85 years in the open prison two decades ago for so-called “war on terror” detainees in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.
Of the 39 detainees currently at the American facility in Cuba, 18 were approved for release, following the review of cases in November and December. The 18 men were not charged with any crime, the AFP news agency reported.
The five men newly approved for release are: Somali Guleed Hassan Ahmed (also called Guled Hassan Duran); Kenyan Mohammed Abdul Malik Bajabu; and Omar Muhammad Ali al-Rammah, Moath Hamza al-Alwi, and Suhayl al-Sharabi of Yemen.
Hassan Duran, according to his lawyers, would be the first detainee to be brought to Guantanamo from a CIA black site to be recommended for release. New York Times reported on Tuesday.
The Pentagon’s periodic review board found that all five men posed or did not pose a threat to the United States.
But like others approved for release, their ability to leave prison can be delayed if Washington seeks arrangements with the detainees’ homelands, or other nations, to accept it.
Currently, the US will not repatriate Yemenis because of the civil war in the country, or Somalis, whose homeland was also plunged by conflict.
The release approvals indicate an accelerated effort by the administration of President Joe Biden to address the situations of the 39 Guantanamo detainees remaining, after his predecessor Donald Trump effectively froze action.
Tuesday was the 20th anniversary of the opening of the jail, and brought renewed calls from international human rights groups to shut it down. Legal groups accuse the US of arbitrarily detaining hundreds of people during that time and torturing dozens.
Of the 39 men still being held in Guantanamo, 27 have not been charged with a crime, Human Rights Watch reported.
On Monday, a group of UN human rights experts called to Washington to “conclude this ugly chapter of relentless human rights violations”.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein wrote on the Lawfare website that the detainees being tried, including 9/11 masterminds Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, can be heard in U.S. civil courts rather than the mysterious and troubled military commission system.
“Now that the US war in Afghanistan is over, it’s time to close the doors on Guantanamo once and for all,” Feinstein said.
Some of the men still being held in jail, Guantanamo’s defense lawyers said, had mental health problems that make it difficult to file a case for release or arrange a future life in their home countries or elsewhere.
Khalid Ahmed Qasim, whose case was reviewed in December, was denied release, although Pentagon authorities in charge of the reviews acknowledged that he was not a significant figure in al-Qaeda or the Taliban and was not a significant threat. does not hold.
But they have indicated that he will not regularly meet with officials at the prison and have no plans for his future if he is released. The board “encourages the detainee to work immediately to show improved compliance and better management of his emotions,” it said.
It also asked his lawyers to draw up a plan “regarding how his mental health conditions would be managed if he were to be transferred” from Guantánamo.
In the 20 years since Guantanamo Bay opened, the United States has spent more than $ 540 million annually to keep prisoners there, according to Human Rights Watch.