The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced [press release] Sunday that Shawqi Awad Balzuhair will be transferred from Guantanamo Bay to the government of Cape Verde, a small country off the Western coast of Africa. Balzuhair was first captured [detainee profile, PDF] in Pakistan on September 11, 2002. The Periodic Review Board determined [text, PDF] that “continued law of war detention of the detainee is no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.” The report acknowledges that Balzuhair’s involvement in extremism was of a low-level fighter and that he did not express support for extremist views. In the opening argument of the Initial Full Hearing, his representative stated [text, PDF] that Balzuhair had developed skills in carpentry while at Guantanamo that could be used for employment and that his family had expressed willingness to support him. There are now 59 detainees that remain at the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.
In September the Obama administration shut down [JURIST report] Camp 5 of Guantanamo Bay, which was a 100-cell maximum security prison. In August Vice President Joe Biden stated at a press conference in Sweden that he hoped and expected [JURIST report] that the Guantanamo prison would be closed before President Barack Obama leaves office. Also in August the DOD announced the transfer [JURIST report] of 15 Guantanamo detainees to the United Arab Emirates. Earlier in August a US Senator released a Pentagon Report [JURIST report] detailing the profiles of those currently detained in and recently released from the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) concluded that closing the facility would not be in the US’ best interests and would pose a safety risk.