16 August, 2016
Fifteen people are no longer prisoners at the United States military's prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Twelve detainees from Yemen and three Afghans were released to the government of the United Arab Emirates. The release was announced on August 15.
It was the largest transfer of detainees from the prison during the nearly eight- year presidency of Barack Obama.
The move comes during a renewed push to reduce the number of people jailed at Guantanamo. The U.S. Department of Defense said on Monday that 61 detainees are still held there. The prison has mostly been used to hold those captured by the government's war on terrorism.
President Obama is facing his own deadline to close the prison. Obama will leave office in January 2017. He promised to close Guantanamo when he was first elected in 2008.
The president faces opposition about the future of the prison from many members of Congress.
A top official with the rights group Amnesty International believes Guantanamo will remain open.
"...[T]here is a significant possibility this is going to remain open as a permanent offshore prison to hold people, practically until they die," said Naureen Shah, Amnesty's U.S. director for security and human rights.
One of the detainees who just left Guantanamo spent more than 13 years there. He was identified as an Afghan national named Obaidullah. He had been accused of hiding and storing mines to be used against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
I'm Mehrnoush Karimian-Ainsworth.
VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb wrote this report. Jim Dresbach adapted her report for Learning English. Additional information came from the Reuter news service. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
deadline – n. a date or time when something must be finished; time limit
transfer – n. an act of moving someone or something from one place to another
offshore – adv. at a distance from the coast; outside the country