Detention & Guantanamo

Six More Guantanamo Transfers---to Uruguay

By Benjamin Wittes
Sunday, December 7, 2014, 9:09 AM

Here's the news from the New York Times this morning:

WASHINGTON– The United States transferred six detainees from the Guantánamo Bay prison to Uruguay this weekend, the Defense Department announced early Sunday. It was the largest single group of inmates to depart the wartime prison in Cuba since 2009, and the first detainees to be resettled in South America.

The transfer included a Syrian man who has been on a prolonged hunger strike to protest his indefinite detention without trial, and who has brought a high-profile lawsuit to challenge the military’s procedures for force-feeding him. His release may moot most of that case, although a dispute over whether videotapes of the procedure must be disclosed to the public is expected to continue.

The transfer was also notable because the deal has been publicly known since it was finalized last spring. Significantly, however, delays by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in signing off on the arrangement placed it in jeopardy. Mr. Hagel’s slow pace this year in approving proposed transfers of low-level detainees contributed to larger tensions with the White House before his resignation under pressure last month.

Here's the Pentagon press statement on the subject:

Detainee Transfer Announced

The Department of Defense announced today the transfer of Ahmed Adnan Ahjam, Ali Hussain Shaabaan, Omar Mahmoud Faraj, Abdul Bin Mohammed Abis Ourgy, Mohammed Tahanmatan, and Jihad Diyab from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the Government of Uruguay.

As directed by the president's Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of this case. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force.

In accordance with statutory requirements, the secretary of defense informed Congress of the United States’ intent to transfer these individuals and of his determination that this transfer meets the statutory standard.

The United States is grateful to the Government of Uruguay for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. The United States coordinated with the Government of Uruguay to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures.

Today, 136 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.