Biden administration transfers first Guantanamo Bay detainee

The Biden administration on Monday announced its first transfer of a detainee from Guantanamo Bay.

Abdul Latif Nasir, 56, will be repatriated to Morocco from the detention facility, bringing the number of prisoners still detained at Guantanamo Bay to 39.

The Periodic Review Board (PRB) determined in 2016 that detaining Nasir “no longer remained necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security of the United States,” according to a statement from the Pentagon.

The PRB at the time recommended that Nasir be repatriated to Morocco “subject to security and human treatment assurances.”

The necessary steps to carry out the transfer, however, could not be completed before the Obama administration came to a close. No movement was then made under former President Trump.

The Pentagon thanked Morocco for “its long-time partnership in securing both countries’ national security interests” in the statement announcing Nasir’s release.

“The United States is also extremely grateful for the Kingdom’s willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility,” it added.

Of the 39 prisoners still being held at Guantanamo, 11 have been charged with war crimes, according to The New York Times. The other 28 have not been charged throughout their nearly 20-year stays at the facility.

The Pentagon later on Monday confirmed there were 10 additional prisoners the PBR had cleared for transfer but would not give further details.

“There are potentially ten others,” press secretary John Kirby told reporters. “For security reasons we’re not going to get ahead of the process here, but when and if there’s something to talk about in terms of transfer to either a home country or another third country we’ll certainly do that appropriately.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement following the Pentagon’s announcement that the Biden administration is “dedicated to following a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population of the Guantanamo facility while also safeguarding the security of the United States and its allies.”

He also praised Morocco’s collaboration in the repatriation process, saying the country’s “leadership in facilitating Nasir’s repatriation, alongside its past willingness to return its foreign terrorist fighters from northeast Syria, should encourage other nations to repatriate their citizens who have traveled to fight for terrorist organizations abroad.”

A senior administration official said Monday that the Biden administration “remains dedicated to a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing of the Guantanamo facility.”

—Ellen Mitchell contributed to this report, which was updated at 4:52 p.m.

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