Saudi prisoner released from Guantanamo Bay

A Saudi man has been released from Guantanamo Bay and transferred back to Saudi Arabia, the Defense Department announced Saturday.

Muhammed Murdi Issa Al-Zahrani had been held at the detention facility for the last 12 years, but a Periodic Review Board determined in October he was not a “continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

The review board included officials from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence. 


An earlier report by the Periodic Review Board said he traveled to Afghanistan in 1999 and “almost certainly” joined al Qaeda, the Associated Press reports.

Al-Zahrani is the seventh detainee to be released in the last two weeks and the thirteenth prisoner to be released this year. 

“This strikes a responsible balance and reflects the careful deliberation the Secretary of Defense brings to the transfer process, and follows a rigorous process in the interagency to review several items including security review prior to any transfer," Paul Lewis, Special Envoy for Guantanamo Detention, said in a statement.

More than 140 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay and officials are trying to speed up the process since President Obama made it his goal at the beginning of his presidency to close the site.