[JURIST] Two of three Guantanamo Bay detainees scheduled for release boarded a plane for transfer on Wednesday while the third detainee turned down the opportunity. Though the two released detainees were natives of Egypt and Yemen, they were resettled in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro [DOD press releases]. The third detainee, Mohammed Bawazir, has gained a reputation for hunger striking as a protest against his 14 years of captivity without trial. Though Bawazir originally agreed to resettle in an unidentified country, he changed his mind reportedly upon realizing that he would not be returning to any family. Currently, 91 detainees remain in Guantanamo Bay, and 34 await resettlement in foreign countries.
The Obama administration has promised to close Guantanamo but has struggled due to Congressional opposition to relocating detainees to the US, as well as the slow process of transferring prisoners to other countries. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said last week that President Barack Obama intends to fulfill [JURIST report] his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility before leaving office. There have been multiple detainees released from Guantanamo recently, following reports that 17 were scheduled for release this month [JURIST report]. The US Department of Defense confirmed [JURIST report] earlier this month that 10 Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo Bay arrived temporarily to Oman. In November the US Senate passed [JURIST report] the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (NDAA) [text, PDF], which prohibits Guantanamo detainees from being transferred into the US. Obama signed the bill into law, despite the fact that it could delay his plan to close the prison. The NDAA comes after the Department of Defense said [JURIST report] they were sending teams to review three Colorado prisons as part of Obama’s efforts to close the facility in October. The Guantanamo Review Task Force (GRTF) was created in response to a 2009 presidential executive order [text, PDF] to review the status of all detainees. In September White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Obama was considering a “wide array” of options [JURIST report] for closing the prison.