The United States on Monday carried out the first repatriation of a Guantánamo inmate under the presidency of Joe Biden, sending a Moroccan to his native country years after his release was recommended.
The inmate, Abdullatif Nasser, in his 50s, was cleared for repatriation by a review board in July 2016, but remained at Guantanamo during the presidency of Donald Trump.
The board determined that Nasser’s arrest was no longer necessary to protect national security, the Pentagon reported Monday. The board had recommended authorization for Nasser’s repatriation, but that could not be completed before the end of former President Barack Obama’s administration, he said.
Nasser, also known as Abdul Latif Nasser, arrived in Morocco on Monday, where police detained him and said they would investigate him as a suspect for committing terrorist acts, although he was never charged during his stay at Guantánamo.
The State Department said in a statement that the Biden administration would follow “a deliberate and meticulous process focused on responsible reduction of the population of detainees at the Guantanamo facility while safeguarding the security of the United States and all its allies.” .
The detention center opened in 2002. The government of former President George W. Bush transformed what had been a quiet Navy post in the extreme southeast of Cuba into a place to interrogate and imprison people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The Obama administration, trying to quell fears that those released would return to the battlefield, established a system by which it would ensure that returnees or sent to third countries no longer become a threat. He also planned to prosecute some in federal court.
But plans to close the base were thwarted when Congress banned the transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo to the United States. Obama eventually got 197 of them released.
With the repatriation of Nasser, the total of prisoners in the North American naval base amounts to 39.