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US says Yemeni can be transferred from Guantanamo

May 29, 2014

MIAMI (AP) — A 35-year-old from Yemen who has been held at the Guantanamo Bay prison for 12 years without charge has been approved for transfer by a government review panel, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

The Periodic Review Board determined that Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani can be transferred from the U.S. base in Cuba “as soon as practicable,” Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale said, without specifying when the detainee might be moved from the prison.

Al-Bihani is one of several dozen prisoners at Guantanamo who the government previously determined could not be charged but were too dangerous to release.

The Periodic Review Board has been studying the cases of the prisoners held as indefinite detainees as part of a renewed effort by the administration of President Barack Obama to close the prison, where the U.S. holds 154 men.

U.S. officials say al-Bihani underwent terrorist training in Afghanistan and has a history of disciplinary infractions in custody.

His lawyer, Pardiss Kebriaei of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says he was just a cook’s assistant who poses no threat to the U.S. and is seriously ill with diabetes.

“The Obama administration must now give effect to the board’s decision and release Mr. Al-Bihani,” Kebriaei said.

The Obama administration has balked at sending Yemenis to their home country because of instability there. Nearly 60 of the men at Guantanamo are from Yemen and have been cleared for transfer.

Update hourly