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The Pentagon has transferred an individual held at Guantanamo Bay to his native country of Morocco in what is believed to be the first detainee transfer of the Biden administration.
Abdul Latif Nasir, 56, was recommended for repatriation in 2016 by the Periodic Review Board, set up by President Barack Obama in 2011 to determine whether individuals should continue to be held without charge.
At the time, the board assessed that Nasir “no longer remained necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security of the United States.”
The board recommended he be sent back to Morocco “subject to security and human treatment assurances.”
Nasir’s release was stalled, however, under President Donald Trump.
In a press release Monday, the Department of Defense thanked Morocco for “its long-time partnership in securing both countries’ national security interests” and noted that the kingdom was supporting US “efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.”
In total, 39 prisoners remain at Guantanamo, 11 of whom have been charged with war crimes.
In February, President Biden announced that he was reviewing the state of the US military prison, located in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the hope of shutting down the notorious lockup.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it was the “goal” and “intention” of the Biden administration to close the facility, a promise Obama made when he took office in January 2009.
Obama repeated the closing goal multiple times during his two terms but was never able to find a path to a shutdown because of legal and political obstacles.
In contrast, Trump signed an executive order to keep the prison open.
The prison houses some of the world’s most notable suspected terrorists, including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad.
The US opened the detention center in January 2002, in the aftermath of 9/11, to hold people accused of ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban.
It became a source of international criticism over the mistreatment of prisoners and the prolonged imprisonment of people without charge.
Nasir first arrived at the facility in May 2002.
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