U.S. sends 3 Guantanamo detainees to Saudi Arabia

Washington, June 13: Three detainees from Guantanamo Bay were transferred to Saudi Arabia “under appropriate security measures,” the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday, in another step toward President Barack Obama’s goal of closing the prison for terrorism suspects.

“All individuals transferred to Saudi Arabia are subject to judicial review in Saudi Arabia before they undergo a rehabilitation program,” the Justice Department said in announcing the transfer of Khalid Saad Mohammed, Abdalaziz Kareem Salim Al Noofayaee and Ahmed Zaid Salim Zuhair.

All three men are from Saudi Arabia.

Last month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said during a visit to Riyadh he was impressed with the Saudi program to rehabilitate militants and the United States had raised the idea of also sending Yemeni detainees to the kingdom.

The Saudi transfers followed the transfer of six other detainees this week — four Chinese members of the Uighur ethnic group were released in Bermuda, and one detainee from Iraq and another from Chad were sent to their home countries.

Obama has ordered the closing of the prison on a U.S. naval base in Cuba, which now holds 229 detainees, by the end of January.

Guantanamo Bay, opened under former President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks, drew international criticism for holding prisoners indefinitely, many without charges.