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Yemen denies plans to transfer Guantanamo detainees to Saudi Arabia

[JURIST] The government of Yemen denied Sunday that it had reached an agreement with the US to transfer nearly 100 Yemeni Guantanamo Bay detainees to Saudi Arabia [JURIST news archives] for rehabilitation. According to a statement from the Yemen Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Yemeni government is still negotiating with the US to return the detainees to Yemen [Yemen Observer report]. Sunday's statement comes just days after the Wall Street Journal reported [text] Thursday that the US was close to a deal with Yemen to send the detainees to Saudi Arabia. Yemeni detainees account for nearly half of the 229 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay, and the US is reluctant to return them to Yemen for fear they would rejoin terrorist groups.

Last week, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced [press release] that three Guantanamo Bay detainees had been transferred to Saudi Arabia, their country of origin, where they will undergo judicial review and rehabilitation. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates [official profile] said last month that the US would continue efforts to reach an agreement to transfer the Yemeni detainees to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation, despite reports [JURIST reports] that two former prisoners have rejoined al Qaeda in Yemen. The Saudi program to rehabilitate Islamic extremists was designed with input from psychiatrists, sociologists, and Muslim clerics. The Saudi Minister of Interior [official website] reports that only nine of the 218 men who have undergone rehabilitation have been rearrested.

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