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10 Yemeni ex-Guantanamo inmates arrive in Oman: Ministry

AFP , Thursday 14 Jan 2016
Guantanamo
File Photo: A guard tower of Camp Delta is seen at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba September 4, 2007 (Photo: Reuters)
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Ten Yemeni former inmates at the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay arrived in Oman Thursday for a "temporary stay" as Washington moves to close the notorious prison, Muscat's foreign ministry said.

Oman has received the men "in response to a request by the US administration for help to resolve the issue of detainees at Guantanamo Bay," the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency ONA.

The statement did not give further details.

The United States has been working to repatriate inmates from the Guantanamo facility, located at a US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

The Guantanamo population has dwindled, and prisoners no longer deemed a risk have either been repatriated or sent to a host country.

Another former Guantanamo inmate was repatriated this week to Saudi Arabia, where he was to join the kingdom's programme to rehabilitate militants.

On January 9, the last Kuwaiti prisoner at the detention centre returned home to a family reception after 14 years of detention.

And in November, the Pentagon said that the United States had transferred five detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United Arab Emirates.

More than 40 of the remaining inmates have been approved for transfer, and the Pentagon is trying to find countries to take them.

Many are from Yemen -- homeland to what the United States describes as the deadliest branch of Al-Qaeda -- and cannot go back given the country's collapse into civil war.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to push ahead with plans to close the prison, despite evidence that a substantial number of former detainees have rejoined jihadist groups.

The Republican-controlled Congress has thwarted Obama's repeated efforts to close Guantanamo.

Obama came to office in 2009 vowing to shutter the facility, which opened under his predecessor George W. Bush to hold suspects after the September 11, 2001 attacks and became known for harsh interrogation techniques that some have said were tantamount to torture.

Inmates were called "enemy combatants" and denied standard US legal rights, meaning many were held for years without charge or trial.

Some figures have estimated that up to 30 percent of released detainees return to militant groups with the aim of carrying out attacks on Western targets.

In his final state of the union address on Tuesday, Obama again urged Congress to help him close the detention facility.

"It's expensive, it's unnecessary and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies," he said.

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