The Pentagon has sent nine men to Saudi Arabia from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, seeing through negotiations that began during the administration of President George W. Bush.
In a statement, the Department of Defense confirmed the transfer of Ahmed Umar Abdullah Al-Hikimi, Abdul Rahman Mohammed Saleh Nasir, Ali Yahya Mahdi Al-Raimi, Tariq Ali Abdullah Ahmed Ba Odah, Muhammed Abdullah Muhammed Al-Hamiri, Ahmed Yaslam Said Kuman, Abd al Rahman Al-Qyati, Mansour Muhammed Ali Al-Qatta, and Mashur Abdullah Muqbil Ahmed Al-Sabri.
All are from Yemen, but due to unrest and al-Qaida activity there, the detainees were sent to Saudi Arabia, where they also have family ties.
One of the men released, 36-year-old Ba Odah, had protested his detention without charges for 14 years by staging a long-term hunger strike.
Ba Odah’s weight dropped from 160 to 74 pounds during the strike, and the military force fed him to keep him alive.
Of Odah’s release, Center for Constitutional Rights Attorney Omar Farah said in a statement to PBS NewsHour:
The government played Russian roulette with Mr. Ba Odah’s life for more than a year. It stood by as he wasted away on hunger strike to 74 pounds, intervening only to force liquid supplements through his nose, block his appeal for humanitarian relief in federal court, and sabotage a deal that would have secured his freedom and access to emergency medical care months ago. That he survived is not so much a cause for celebration as it is a reckoning that ought to remind the White House of the cost of elevating politics over the life and liberty of a human being. Mr. Ba Odah’s transfer today ends one of the most appalling chapters in Guantánamo’s sordid history. Now that Mr. Ba Odah is finally free, we are hopeful that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will provide him the sophisticated medical care he desperately needs.
80 prisoners remain at the controversial facility, which President Barack Obama has vowed to close.