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US Releases Five Guantanamo Detainees

Obstacles Remain in Obama’s Goal of Guantanamo Closure
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The United States has transferred five men from the military-run detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as the Obama administration steps up its goal of closing the controversial facility.

The Pentagon announced the transfers on Wednesday. All five men are from Yemen, and have spent at least a dozen years at Guantanamo, despite being cleared for release in 2009 by a special task force created by President Barack Obama. Four have been sent to the Middle Eastern nation of Oman, while the fifth has been accepted in the Baltic nation of Estonia.

Map of Guantanamo with insets of Oman and Estonia
Map of Guantanamo with insets of Oman and Estonia

The detention center on Guantanamo Bay has housed suspected terrorists captured overseas by U.S. military forces after the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington. But human rights activists have criticized the United States for holding the detainees indefinitely without bringing charges against them.

Obama vowed to close the prison when he took office in 2009, but his efforts were halted due to restrictions passed by Congress. The administration renewed its efforts to close the prison after some of the restrictions were lifted in 2013, transferring nearly 30 prisoners last year.

Wednesday's transfers leave 122 detainees at Guantanamo.

A group of Republican senators introduced a bill earlier this week that would place a moratorium on detainee transfers.