December 16, 2013, New York – Today, in response to the transfer of Saad Muhammad Husayn Qahtani and Hamood Abdulla Hamood from Guantánamo to Saudi Arabia over the weekend, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
We commend the Obama administration for these two transfers to Saudi Arabia. Both men had been cleared for release for years and neither was charged with a crime during the eleven years each spent in detention.The president authorized these transfers under existing transfer restrictions imposed by Congress. While these transfers prove the president had the power to move men out of Guantanamo despite these restrictions, we expect that language in the compromise version of this year’s defense funding bill (NDAA) will expedite this process by easing the restrictions.Half of the remaining 160 men have been approved for release for years, and Yemenis comprise the majority of these cleared men. Like Hamood, many Yemeni detainees have significant family ties to Saudi Arabia and could be transferred there. But there can be no excuse for failing to send home to Yemen men cleared for release years ago. The men should be transferred on a case-by-case basis, rather than viewing them as a block. The president announced in May that he would lift his self-imposed ban on transfers to Yemen. Seven months later, not a single Yemeni has been released. If the president is to close this prison before the end of his second term, he must resume the repatriation of Yemenis as soon as possible.