US sends Yemeni Guantanamo inmate to Italy, 78 detainees left

Suleiman, who was recommended for transfer in 2010, was brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2002

The US transferred Saudi-born Yemeni inmate Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman to Italy, the Pentagon announced on Sunday, as President Barack Obama seeks to close the reviled American military detention center in Cuba.

Suleiman, who was recommended for transfer in January 2010 by the Guantanamo Review Task Force, was originally brought to Guantanamo Bay in January 2002.

A total of 78 inmates now remain at Guantanamo, which Obama has long vowed to close. He has been unable to do so amid opposition from the Republican-held Congress, concerns at home over plans to hold one-time terror suspects on US soil and the reluctance of allies to take in the prisoners.

The transfer showed that the Obama administration continues to pursue a lesser goal of getting out every detainee on a list of men recommended for transfer if security conditions are met in receiving countries, the New York Times said. Suleiman’s departure leaves 29 detainees on the list.

He was among the earliest detainees brought by the George W. Bush administration to the prison when it opened in 2002, the Times reported. According to a leaked military dossier, he was arrested near the Afghan border by Pakistani police in late 2001 and turned over to the American military

The dossier shows that details of Suleiman’s alleged involvement with al Qaeda were mostly based on claims made to interrogators by a single detainee who was known for providing information about alleged terrorist activities and who received favorable treatment in the prison, the Times said. Intelligence officials and judges later discounted the credibility of his accuser’s information absent corroboration.

Suleiman had been on the transfer list since 2009, when officials said he posed a low enough threat to be released to a stable country.


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