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Guantanamo Bay detainee repatriated to native country of Algeria

<i>Alex Brandon/AP</i><br/>Flags are seen flying at half-staff at Camp Justice
Alex Brandon/AP
Flags are seen flying at half-staff at Camp Justice

By Aileen Graef and Ellie Kaufman, CNN

The Department of Defense announced Saturday the repatriation of Sufiyan Barhoumi from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba to his native county of Algeria.

Barhoumi was cleared for transfer in August 2016, but had continued to be held in Guantanamo while he waited for the US government to find a willing third-party country to repatriate him to, as the government does with all Guantanamo detainees who are cleared for transfer.

Barhoumi was detained at Guantanamo nearly 20 years ago, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights.

“On August 9, 2016, the Periodic Review Board process determined that law of war detention of Mr. Barhoumi was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the national security of the United States. Therefore, the PRB recommended that Mr. Barhoumi be repatriated to his native country of Algeria, subject to security and humane treatment assurances,” the Defense Department said in the announcement.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin informed Congress in February of the department’s intent to repatriate Barhoumi, the release said.

“Our government owes Sufyian and his mother years of their lives back,” Sufiyan’s attorney, Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement. “I’m overjoyed that he will be home with his family, but I will dearly miss his constant good humor and empathy for the suffering of others in the utterly depressing environment of Guantánamo.”

Barhoumi is the third Guantanamo detainee to be repatriated under the Biden administration.

Mohammed al-Qahtani’s repatriation to Saudi Arabia for mental health treatment was announced by the Defense Department in March. Abdul Latif Nasir’s repatriation to his native country of Morocco was announced in July 2021.

Both Barhoumi and Nasir were cleared for transfer during the Obama administration. Al-Qahtanini was cleared for transfer during the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden has said he wants to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. With Barhoumi’s transfer, 37 detainees remain at the prison, 18 of whom are cleared for transfer.

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CNN’s Rachel Janfaza contributed to this report.

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