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US transfers Guantanamo detainees
Three Saudi detainees are returned to undergo "rehabilitation programme".
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2009 08:04 GMT

Mohammad al-Qurani has been freed from
Guantanamo and returned to Chad
 [Al Jazeera]

The US has transferred three Saudi detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and back to Saudi Arabia, US authorities say.

Earlier on Friday, the US justice department had also announced the transfer of a Chadian national and an Iraqi to their home countries, bringing the total to ten transfers from the camp this week.

Khalid Saad Mohammed, Abdalaziz Kareem Salim Al Noofayaee, and Ahmed Zaid Salim Zuhair were transferred to Saudi Arabia to undergo a "rehabilitation programme," the US justice department said on Friday.

All three were approved for transfer following a case review ordered by Barack Obama, the US president.

Any inmates transferred to Saudi Arabia are subject to a judicial review of their case before undergoing a rehabilitation programme, during which time they remain under the Saudi government's control, the US justice department said.

The news comes after Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said Obama had not ruled out resettling Guantanamo detainees cleared for release on US soil but added that any decisions were dependent on national security.

"We're not going to make any decisions about transfer or release that threatens the security of the country,'' Gibbs said.

The prospects for any transfers of Guantanamo inmates to the mainland US had dimmed in recent weeks after congress acted to block funding to pay for the moves.

In the last week, the US has also sent four detainees to Bermuda and one to face trial in New York, leaving 229 detainees still at prison camp.

Abuse claims

Obama wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp by January 2010 [AFP]

Earlier on Friday, US department of justice said Mohammad al-Qurani arrived in Chad on Thursday while a second released man from Iraq, Jawad Jabber Sadkhan, was sent home to Iraq on Wednesday.

Al-Qurani, sometimes referred to as al-Gharani, was cleared of all charges by a US judge in January.

He told Al Jazeera earlier this year that abuse of detainees in the prison had continued despite Barack Obama, the US president, being elected.

Arrested in Pakistan in October 2001, aged only around 14, al-Qurani was one of the youngest Guantanamo detainees in the facility.

In a phone call in April to Al Jazeera's Sami al-Hajj, himself a former detainee released in 2008, he said he had been beaten and tear gassed in his cell.

Al-Qurani's lawyer, Zachary Katznelson, told Al Jazeera that the mistreatment had continued throughout January and February this year and included beatings, sleep deprivation and racial abuse.

"At no point was there are real attempt [by US authorities] to get to the bottom of this case [and] to show that he really was an innocent kid, which is what he has been the whole time," Katznelson said.

"Seven and a half years in prison, he never should have been there a day."

Obama ordered the closure of the facility by January 2010 shortly after entering office.

However, the fate of the detainees, now numbering around 230, has remained highly controversial, with efforts to resettle those cleared of charges proving problematic and US congress rejecting efforts to rehouse other detainees on US soil.

Source:
Agencies
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