The United States has transferred five detainees being held at its prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Georgia and Slovakia.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, four of the men are Yemeni and that is important because they are the first Yemeni prisoners to be transferred since 2010. The paper explains:
“The U.S. banned transfers of Yemeni detainees to Yemen after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab , a Nigerian man, attempted to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with an underwear bomb made by a Yemen-based terror group.
“Yemeni detainees are the largest group in Guantanamo, and transferring those detainees from the prison remains an obstacle to closing it, according to human rights advocates.
“There now are 143 men held at Guantanamo, including 84 Yemen nationals, according to the Pentagon. Of the Yemenis held at the prison, 54 are eligible to be transferred from Guantanamo and have been cleared for release, the Pentagon said.”
If you remember, President Obama has repeatedly vowed to close the Guantanamo prison, but congressional Republicans have opposed those attempts.
The Associated Press explains that despite that, Congress eased restrictions on transferring detainees to countries willing to keep an eye on them.
The AP adds:
“A number of resettlements are expected in the coming weeks. U.S. State Department envoy Clifford Sloan has been trying to persuade countries to accept prisoners, and he praised Georgia and Slovakia.
“‘We are very grateful to our partners for these generous humanitarian gestures,’ Sloan said. ‘We appreciate the strong support we are receiving from our friends and allies around the globe.’
“Georgia took three prisoners from Guantanamo in 2010. Slovakia has taken a total of eight men from Guantanamo.”