Guantanamo prisoners released after 13 years

(AP Photo)

MIAMI (AP) – Five men held by the U.S. at its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been released and sent to the United Arab Emirates.

The Pentagon says the five Yemeni men were accepted for resettlement in the Persian Gulf nation after U.S. authorities determined they no longer posed a threat.

The Defense Department said in a statement Sunday that their release brings the Guantanamo prisoner population to 107.

Each of the five released over the weekend had been held for more than 13 years. They were not charged but were detained as enemy combatants.

Their release was delayed because the U.S. won’t send Guantanamo prisoners to Yemen because of instability there and must find other countries to accept them. These are the first prisoners accepted by the UAE for resettlement.

Of the 116 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo, 52 have been cleared for release. But most of those are from Yemen, which Washington considers too unstable to send prisoners.

The remaining 64 include some in various stages of prosecution, such as five facing a long-stalled trial by military commission for alleged roles in orchestrating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Prosecutors say relatively few could be tried for war crimes by military commissions, and could only be charged if sent to U.S. civilian courts.

Thirty-two are under a “law of war detention” designation, meaning the U.S. doesn’t have evidence to charge them but asserts the right to detain them until the end of hostilities. The uncertain nature of the terror conflict means they could theoretically be held forever.

Roth said officials fear the political consequences if released detainees were to attack the U.S. in the future, but argued that the risk is overstated.

“There are many people in the world who wish to harm the United States, but the United States doesn’t run around arbitrarily locking them up,” he said.

For inmates, who avidly follow any news about their confinement via satellite TV and the kind of internal rumor mill common to all prisons, the latest developments are deepening a sense of despair that provoked Ba Odah and others to stop eating in protest.

“The government has no intention of charging him and, in fact, it has disclaimed any interest in holding him, and yet it keeps him at Guantanamo day in and day out, potentially forever,” Farah said. “That is something that Mr. Ba Odah feels is cruel, unjust and violent.”

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