The Obama administration on Monday transferred 15 detainees from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the United Arab Emirates, the largest release under the current president, the Pentagon said.
The transfer comes as the president faces a looming deadline to keep the promise he made on his first day in office to close the military prison. The detainee population there dipped under 100 for the first time in years in January with the release of 10 Yemeni prisoners, and will shrink to 61 with the latest transfer, underscoring a late effort to move toward closure.
“The United States is grateful to the Government of the United Arab Emirates for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The United States coordinated with the Government of the United Arab Emirates to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.”
The move was immediately condemned by Ed Royce (R.-Calif.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He accused the Obama administration in a statement of “doubling down on policies that put American lives at risk” and “recklessness.”
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