US Department of Defense announces repatriation of Guantanamo Bay prisoner to Algeria News
© WikiMedia (Gino Reyes)
US Department of Defense announces repatriation of Guantanamo Bay prisoner to Algeria

The US Department of Defense (DOD) Thursday announced the transfer of Said bin Brahim bin Umran Bakush, a prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay, to Algeria. With his transfer, 30 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

In a statement, the DOD announced that Guantanamo’s Periodic Review Board (PRB) determined it was “no longer necessary” to hold Bakush to prevent a “significant threat to the national security of the United States.” The US will coordinate Bakush’s release with the government of Algeria to ensure recommended monitoring, travel restrictions and continued information sharing are implemented.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin first notified Congress of the DOD’s intent to repatriate Bakush to Algeria on February 21. Since the beginning of the year, the DOD has released four other detainees from Guantanamo.

According to Bakush’s Guantanamo detainee profile from 2016, US authorities detained Bakush in 2022 under suspicion that he served in an Afghan extremist group. Bakush previously told US authorities he did not want to return to Algeria, even going so far as to lie about his nationality, because he “feared authorities would immediately arrest him.” In his 2016 hearing before the board, the PRB denied Bakush’s release, citing “a continuing threat to the security of the United States.”

With Bakush’s release, 30 detainees now remain in US custody at Guantanamo Bay. Of those 30, 16 are eligible for transfer, and three are eligible for appearances before the PRB. Another nine are involved in Bush administration era proceedings for foreign terrorism suspects–known as military commissions–with an additional two detainees already convicted by the same military commissions.

A recent report from the UN Human Rights Council described the conditions at Guantanamo Bay as “worrying” and called for its immediate closure. US President Joe Biden announced the closure of Guantanamo Bay in February 2021. Since then, however, the Biden administration has announced no further plans on closing the detention facility.