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Guantanamo detainee transferred to Yemen

The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced Tuesday that Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohammed Odaini was transferred [press release] to his homeland of Yemen [JURIST news archive] after a federal court ordered his release [opinion, PDF; JURIST report]. In his ruling ordering Odaini's release, Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. of the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website], ruled that the US government had illegally detained Odaini for the past eight years and that the US government had failed to show sufficient evidence linking Odaini to al Qaeda [JURIST news archive]. Odaini is the first detainee to be transferred to Yemen since the Obama administration suspended all transfers of Guantanamo detainees [JURIST report] to the country citing security concerns. The DOD noted that the suspension of Yemeni repatriations remains in effect but that the administration respected the decision of the court and complied with all Congressionally-mandated requirements when facilitating the transfer. The DOD also indicated that the US and Yemeni governments will work together to ensure that all appropriate security measures are taken following Odaini's transfer. There are currently 180 prisoners remaining at the Guantanamo facility, which the US government has been attempting to close [JURIST news archive] since US President Barack Obama took office last year.

Most of the detainees remaining at Guantanamo are Yemeni, and many have been transferred back to the Arab nation. In January, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] upheld the detention [JURIST report] of Yemeni Guantanamo detainee Ghaleb Nassar Al-Bihani [NYT materials], ruling that he can remain in US custody, but, in December, the US government transferred six detainees [JURIST report] back to Yemen. Also in December, a federal judge granted Yemeni detainee Saeed Hatim's petition for habeas corpus, ordering his release [JURIST report]. A few weeks after the Obama administration suspended transfers to Yemen, a Yemeni government official said that Yemen will build a rehabilitation center for Guantanamo detainees. According to the anonymous official, Yemen will begin building [Reuters report] once it receives funding for the $11 million project promised by the US. It is believed the rehabilitation center will be internationally financed and monitored.

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