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Guantanamo Bay: UAE repatriates former detainees to Yemen

The 12 detainees had been repatriated to the southern city of Hadhramout on Wednesday where they will be released
An Amnesty International member kneels on the ground during a protest to ask the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, at the US embassy in Brussels on 14 June 2021 (AFP)

The United Arab Emirates has sent 12 Yemenis, previously detained in Guantanamo Bay, back to Yemen where they will be released, an official and their lawyer said. 

The men were part of a group of 18 Yemenis and one Russian sent from the US prison camp in Cuba to the UAE between 2015 and 2017, where they remained in detention. 

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The Yemenis had been picked up in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the September 11 attacks and held without charge or trial for nearly a decade. 

The first six of them were released in July and remained in the UAE before being taken to Yemen. 

An Emirati military plane ferried the men to Mukalla in the southern province of Hadhramout on Wednesday, a Yemeni government official confirmed. 

Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer representing the detainees, said the Yemeni government spoke to the families of the former Guantanamo detainees and told them to prepare for their relatives at the al-Rayan military base, which the UAE has controlled since 2015. 

Barman added that the six released in July have received some money from the Emirati and Yemeni governments. 

The United Nations and rights groups have urged Abu Dhabi and Washington to stop forced repatriation of detainees back to their homeland, where they could face possible torture and continued detention.

Last year, UN rights experts said that the 18 detainees were "allegedly forced to sign documents consenting to their repatriation" or remain indefinitely in Emirati detention.