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U.S. sends 10 Guantanamo captives to Oman

In this June 7, 2014, file photo, the entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. (Ben Fox / Associated Press)
In this June 7, 2014, file photo, the entrance to Camp 5 and Camp 6 at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay detention center, at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. (Ben Fox / Associated Press)
By Carol Rosenberg Miami Herald

The Arabian Sea nation of Oman said Monday it has taken in 10 Guantanamo captives for the Obama administration, which is in a final push to thin the detention center population by Inauguration Day.

A Pentagon official who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that the transfer had taken place, downsizing the detainee population to 45. Neither Oman nor the official provided the identities of the 10 men who were sent there.

A brief announcement from the Omani News Agency in Muscat said Sultan Qaboos Bin Said agreed to take in the men “in consideration to their humanitarian situation.” It described their status there as in “temporary residence.”

There was no immediate explanation of the reference to their stay being temporary. But U.S. diplomats have in the past negotiated transfers to security arrangements that withhold travel documents from the freed captives for a specific time period, in some instances two years.

Before this transfer, 19 of the 55 captives at the prison were cleared to go to nations offering security assurances that satisfied Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

More transfers are expected. One of those cleared for release before Monday’s transfer is a man from Saudi Arabia, which has typically taken back its cleared citizens.

Monday’s transfer makes Oman the largest Guantanamo resettlement nation. The sultanate, which is said to have a special rehabilitation and reintegration program, previously took in 20 captives from Guantanamo in three transfers of 10, four and six men in January 2016 and in 2015.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted two weeks ago for a cessation in transfers, a request the Obama White House has rejected.

All the men sent to Oman earlier were from neighboring Yemen. It is U.S. policy not to repatriate Yemeni detainees from Guantanamo to their turbulent, violence-plagued nation. But this week’s transfer is believed to include captives of other nationalities.

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