US frees Yemeni prisoner from Gitmo

Guantanamo detainees pray before dawn near a fence of razor wire. (AP)
Guantanamo detainees pray before dawn near a fence of razor wire. (AP)

Miami - A Yemeni prisoner at Guantanamo Bay has been released after more than 14 years in custody and sent to Italy, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The release of Fayiz Ahmad Yahia Suleiman reduces the number of men held at the US base in Cuba to 78. He is among about two dozen low-level Guantanamo prisoners expected to be released in a period stretching into the coming weeks.

"The United States is grateful to the Government of Italy for its humanitarian gesture and willingness to support ongoing US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the Defence Department said in a statement.

Military records show Suleiman, who is about 40, was suspected of fighting with al-Qaeda against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. He was never charged. He was cleared for release in 2010, but US does not sent Yemeni prisoners to their homeland because of instability there. It had to find another country to accept him for resettlement.

The US transferred two Guantanamo detainees to Italy in November 2009.

President Barack Obama has been seeking to close the detention centre amid opposition from Congress, which has prohibited transferring detainees to the US for any reason.

The administration has been working with other countries to resettle detainees such as Suleiman who have been cleared for transfer after a comprehensive security review.

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