President Joe Biden’s administration has transported its first inmate from Guantanamo Bay, where a man who had never been charged with a crime had been held for nearly two decades and had been referred for release in 2016, but stayed there during Donald Trump’s administration.
The release of Abdul Latif Nassar, who was imprisoned at the facility during the conflict in 2002, could signal the administration’s intention to close it down completely.
Abdul Latif Nasser Released From Guantanamo After 19 Years Of Detention Without Chargehttps://t.co/WlhiuvzJ1d
— 🇨🇦Golden Perspective 🌊 (@rjcrock2003) July 19, 2021
According to a statement from the US Department of Defense, Nassar would be repatriated to his native Morocco “subject to security and humane treatment assurances.”
According to the Pentagon, an inter-agency panel ruled in 2016 that his imprisonment was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing serious threat to US national security.
“The United States commends the Kingdom of Morocco for its long-time partnership in securing both countries’ national security interests,” the Pentagon said. “The United States is also extremely grateful for the Kingdom’s willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.”
After largely revoking a move under Barack Obama to begin ending its operations, which Obama signed on his second day in office, Trump ordered the jail in Cuba to remain open and continue admitting inmates “when appropriate and necessary” in 2018.
Earlier this year, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the National Security Council was in talks with the administration to close the prison altogether by the conclusion of Biden’s first term in office in 2024.
On Monday, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that the administration is “dedicated to following a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population of the Guantanamo facility while also safeguarding the security of the United States and its allies.”
STORY CONTINUES BELOW...
The facility, originally opened under George W Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has been heavily criticized for allegedly denying detainees under extrajudicial detention due process while they are subjected to human rights violations.
Nassar spent many months in Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo Bay in May 2002. Following a year-long investigation, a six-part Radiolab series demonstrated that most of the government’s charges against him lacked meaningful evidence to support his arrest.
During his imprisonment, his lawyer told the inter-agency Periodic Review Board in 2016 that he had “not made any negative comments or expressed any ill will towards the United States nor displayed any evidence of an interest in extremist activities” during his detention and “deeply regrets his actions of the past.”
The Gitmo prisoner the Biden admin moved out today was cleared for release in 2016—and then Trump was elected https://t.co/1oRj6qQvwz
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 19, 2021
The prison will continue to imprison 39 inmates, 11 of whom are accused of war crimes, following Nassar’s transfer. At its peak following 9/11, the prison housed roughly 700 men.