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Yemen receives 4 detainees from Guantanamo Bay prison

The Associated Press
June 21, 2007

SAN'A, Yemen: Yemen has received four of its citizens who were transferred from Guantanamo Bay prison, where the U.S. had held them since 2002 for suspected al-Qaida links, security officials and rights advocates said Thursday.

The U.S. announced the transfer of the men back to their home country on Tuesday, but did not reveal their names.

The return of the men raised the total number of Yemeni nationals who have been sent home from Guantanamo to 12, according to figures maintained by The Associated Press. Almost 100 Yemenis remain in the detention facility, more than from any other nation.

One of the four men was identified as Ali Saleh Muhsin by a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The official said Muhsin suffers from "psychological disturbances," but did not provide further details.

Yemeni human rights groups are pleading for the release of the four men, according to Khaled al-Ansi, a human rights advocate and lawyer.

Since Guantanamo opened in 2002, the U.S. has released some 405 prisoners after determining they were not a threat, did not have any intelligence value and their home country would be capable of preventing them from "rejoining the fight" against the United States or its allies.

About 80 of the remaining prisoners have been cleared for transfer or release and are awaiting this determination.

Many of those transferred to the custody of their native countries have been released.

Obtaining the necessary assurances from Yemen has been difficult, which makes the recent transfer relatively rare.

A group of U.S. defense attorneys traveled to Yemen last month to urge the government to lobby more aggressively for the release of their clients, following the lead of Western nations that have used diplomatic pressure to bring their nationals home.

Yemen's foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Kerbi, has said that Yemen wants the detainees handed over to be tried according to the country's laws.

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