The US government announced that 15 inmates held at the Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been transferred to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The transfer of the 15 detainees – 12 Yemeni and 3 Afghan citizens – brought the total number of prisoners in Guantanamo, which accommodated nearly 800 in 2002, down to 61, EFE news reported.
In a statement on Monday, the Pentagon said that the decision was taken after a group of experts consisting of representatives from six US government departments and agencies granted approval.
Some of the detainees transferred to the UAE spent up to 14 years in Guantanamo and were held there without charges laid against them.
It is the largest transfer of Guantanamo detainees since President Barack Obama was sworn-in in 2009 and after he vowed to dismantle the facility before leaving the White House in January 2017.
During his eight years as president, Obama has tried to send Guantanamo inmates to US maximum-security prisons in order to fulfil his promise but the Congress blocked his efforts under various pretexts, thus the government has transferred the detainees to other countries.
“The US is grateful to the government of the UAE for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said.