A Guantanamo detainee approved for release on Thursday is refusing to leave the military prison, complicating the president's plan to downsize the inmate population.
Yemeni detainee Mohammad Bwazir, 35, refused to board a plane because he has no relatives in the country that offered him sanctuary, according to the Miami Herald.
“He’s been in Guantánamo so long that he was terrified about going to a country other than one where he had family,” John Chandler, Bwazir's lawyer, told the newspaper.
“He just didn’t want to go. He just feels like he’ll be OK if he has a family to support him,” he added.
Chandler said Bwazir could not bring himself to board the U.S. military flight early Wednesday, which had planned to take him and two other detainees away from the facility in Cuba.
The other detainees were released to Balkan nations — one to Bosnia, the other to Montenegro. Those releases brought the total prison population down to 91.
Bwazir had wanted to go to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia or Indonesia, where he had relatives. It's not clear what will happen to him.
Ian Moss, chief of staff to the special envoy for Guantanamo closure, told the Herald that Bwazir "remains approved for transfer" but provided no timeline for when that might happen.
Of the remaining 91 detainees, 34 are approved for release but are awaiting countries to accept them. Ten are in military commissions, and the remaining 47 are deemed too dangerous to release.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has not told Congress of additional transfers, the Herald reported.
Due to a 30-day notification requirement, there will be no additional transfers for at least a month.
President Obama during his State of the Union address this month vowed to continue his efforts to close the prison.