Washington – Washington, Aug 15 (efe_epa).- The US government today reported that 15 inmates held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba have been transferred to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The transfer of the 15 detainees - 12 Yemeni and 3 Afghan citizens - brings the total number of prisoners in Guantanamo, which accommodated nearly 800 in 2002, down to 61.
In a statement, the Pentagon said that the decision has been taken after a group of experts consisting of representatives from six US government departments and agencies have granted approval.
Some of the detainees transferred to the UAE spent up to 14 years in Guantanamo and were held there without charges laid against them.
It is the largest transfer of Guantanamo detainees since Barack Obama was sworn into office in 2009 and after he vowed to dismantle the facility before leaving the White House in January next year.
During his eight years as president, Obama has tried to send Guantanamo inmates to US maximum-security prisons in order to fulfill his promise but the Congress blocked his efforts under various pretexts, thus the government has transferred the detainees to other countries.
"The United States is grateful to the government of the United Arab Emirates for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the Pentagon said.