Washington, April 17 (IANS) The US Defence Department said nine detainees had been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre to Saudi Arabia.
The transfer reduces to 80 the number of prisoners remaining at the prison located in Cuba for terrorism suspects, which US President Barack Obama pledged to close during his 2008 election campaign and is trying to shut down before he leaves office in January 2017, EFE news reported.
“The US is grateful to the government of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said on Saturday.
The transfer occurred after lengthy negotiations with the Saudi government, which had already taken 133 Guantanamo Bay detainees in recent years.
The nine prisoners transferred on Saturday are all from Yemen.
One of them, Tariq Ali Abdullah Ba Odah, has been on a hunger strike since 2007, is regularly force-fed and as of last year weighed 33 kg, according to officials.