Detainee transferred out of Guantanamo Bay

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President Joe Biden’s administration has transferred its first detainee from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, a Moroccan man who had been imprisoned since 2002, bringing the population at the facility down to 39.

Set up to house foreign suspects following the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the prison came to symbolise the excesses of the US “war on terror” because of harsh interrogation methods that critics say amounted to torture.

While Trump kept the prison open during his four years in the White House, Biden has vowed to close it.

Abdul Latif Nasir, who is Moroccan and 56 years old, was repatriated to Morocco. He had been cleared for release in 2016.

Most of the prisoners left at Guantanamo Bay have been held for nearly two decades without being charged or tried.

Opened under President George W. Bush, the prison’s population grew to a peak of about 800 inmates before it started to shrink. Obama whittled down the number further, but his effort to close the prison was stymied largely by Republican opposition in Congress.

The federal government is still barred by law from transferring any inmates to prisons on the US mainland.

Even with his own Democratic party now controlling Congress, Biden has majorities so slim that he would face a tough challenge securing legislative changes because some Democrats might also oppose them.

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