Guantanamo detainee transferred to Saudi custody, 1st for Trump administration

Guantanamo Bay Prison to Keep Taking 'Continuing, Significant' Threats to US

A Saudi man held at the USA military prison at Guantanamo Bay who pleaded guilty to war crimes has been transferred back to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Darbi was captured at the airport in Baku, Azerbaijan, in June 2002 and taken to the US base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

Al Darbi could have received a life sentence but instead got 13 years in the plea deal.

"The United States coordinated with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to ensure standards of safety and humane treatment in the transfer", said Higgins.

Guantanamo has not received any new inmates since 2008, but on the campaign trail Trump vowed to load the facility with "bad dudes", and said it would be "fine" if U.S. terror suspects were sent there for trial.

The prison, opened by Republican President George W. Bush to hold terrorism suspects captured overseas after the September 11, 2001, attacks came to symbolize harsh detention practices that opened the United States to accusations of torture.

U.S. military guards enter the Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba, June 27, 2006.

Trump's Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, reduced the inmate population to 41 from 242, but fell short of fulfilling his promise to close the jail before leaving office a year ago.

In contrast, Trump pledged during his campaign to repopulate the prison, saying he wanted to "to load it up with some bad dudes".

The agreement to repatriate al-Darbi was made under President Barack Obama, whose administration had hoped to eventually close the detention center.

He also asked the Pentagon to re-examine the USA military's detention policy.

His transfer brings the number of men held at Guantanamo to 40, which includes five men facing trial by military commission for their alleged roles planning and supporting the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack and another charged with the attack on the USS Cole in October 2000.

But news of the move came the same day as the Pentagon said defence secretary Jim Mattis had sent the White House guidance on how Guantanamo might again start receiving new inmates - an oft-stated goal of Trump.

The fate of the detention facility has taken on additional importance as US and coalition operations against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria begin to wind down.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says so far US -backed Syrian forces have captured more than 400 foreign nationals accused of fighting for ISIS. They waited sixteen years for my return, ' he said.

"In some cases, those countries have stripped them of their citizenship, so they have a different view as far as to what their status is today", Mattis added. "So this is not simple".

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented many Guantanamo prisoners over the years, issued a statement welcoming the transfer of al-Darbi but criticizing the administration plan to maintain the detention center or perhaps even expand it.

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