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Biden released a 19-year detainee from Guantánamo Bay whom Trump kept detained for 4 years despite being cleared for release

·2 min read
In this article:
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  • The Biden administration has transferred its first detainee out of Guantánamo Bay.

  • Abdul Latif Nasser, held there since 2002, was repatriated to Morocco, per The New York Times.

  • He was cleared for release in 2016 but then kept in Guantánamo under the Trump administration.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Biden administration freed its first detainee from Guantánamo Bay, two decades after he was captured and five years after he was cleared for release.

Abdul Latif Nasser, 56, was repatriated Monday to his native Morocco and given to government custody, The New York Times reported.

He was captured in 2001 by Pakistani agents and had been in Guantánamo since 2002.

Guantanamo Bay
Guantánamo Bay prisoners. Getty Images

The US accuses him of involvement with the Taliban, but, like many Guantánamo detainees, he was never charged with a crime.

US officials allege that he met Osama bin Laden in 1995 and trained in Qaeda training camps, ABC News reported.

He said in 2016 that he "deeply regrets his actions of the past," though did not elaborate on what they were.

Nasser was recommended for release out of Guantánamo in 2016, The Times reported, so long as he stayed under security in Morocco.

But the Trump administration halted all releases, and Nasser stayed. Trump signed an executive order in 2018 to keep Guantánamo open.

President Barack Obama's special envoy for arranging transfers from Guantánamo in 2015 and 2016 said his office arranged to repatriate two men, including Nasser, The Times reported.

Obama then turned to a process of transferring detainees out of the facility, which was never completed.

The Defense Department said in a statement, per CNN: "The United States commends the Kingdom of Morocco for its long-time partnership in securing both countries' national security interests. The United States is also extremely grateful for the Kingdom's willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility."

While reducing Guantánamo's population significantly, Obama did not achieve his repeatedly stated goal of closing the facility, which was complicated by measured passed by Congress making it harder to remove detainees.

Nasser's family told ABC News in 2019 that they had started to prepare for his return but felt betrayed by the US government.

Thirty-nine prisoners remain at Guantánamo Bay, according to The Times.

The Guantánamo Bay facility, which is in Cuba, was created by President George W. Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Biden has pledged to complete Obama's work of closing it.

People detained there say they have been waterboarded, shackled in stress positions, and confined in boxes as they were interrogated.

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