On Thursday, four more Guantanamo Bay detainees were transferred from the detention center in Cuba and moved to Saudi Arabia. The release comes as part of President Obama’s final push to evacuate as many prisoners from the facility as possible before leaving office. According to reports, the White House is expected to release another 18 before Trump becomes President.
An AFP journalist reported that the four men were greeted by tearful family members as they arrived at the Riyadh airport in Saudi Arabia through a terminal that is usually reserved for royals. Among the four Yemeni prisoners released were Salim Ahmed bin Kanad, Mohammed Bawazir, Mohammed Rajab Abu Ghanim and Abdullah Yahya al-Shalabi. Salim Ahmed bin Kanad reportedly told reporters that he felt “born again” after seeing his family.
On Thursday, Saudi King Salman said that the four Yemenis will live in the kingdom and take part in a rehabilitation program focused on de-radicalizing terrorists.
Guantanamo Bay now holds 55 prisoners after Thursday’s release. Nineteen of those individuals have gone through a security process and have been approved for transfers.
“The United States is grateful to the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
On Tuesday, President-elect Trump tweeted his disapproval of the Obama Administration’s moves to continue releasing the prisoners.
“There should be no further releases from Gitmo,” Trump said in a tweet. “These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”
Later that same day, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that despite the President-elect’s opposition, the President Obama would still move forward with his efforts to release the prisoners and that President-elect Trump would have the power to implement his agenda after inauguration.
“He’ll have an opportunity to implement the policy that he believes is most effective when he takes office on January 20,” Earnest said.
The Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook also responded to Trump’s criticisms on Twitter.
“There is one commander in chief at a time and the secretary of Defense will continue to carry out his responsibilities as he sees appropriate,” Cook tweeted.