According to a local official and a lawyer, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has moved 12 Yemenis first arrested at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay to Yemen, where they are likely to be released.
Between 2015 and 2017, the detainees were part of a group of 18 Yemenis and one Russian who were moved from Guantanamo Bay to UAE, where they remained detained.
Following the September 11 attacks in the United States, they were confiscated in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In July, the first six were returned to Yemen and freed.
The Yemenis had been kept without prosecution or trial for nearly a decade.
According to a Yemeni government official, an Emirati military plane transporting the 12 arrived in al-Mukalla in Yemen’s southern province of Hadhramout on Wednesday.
The Yemeni government called the detainees’ families and requested them to prepare for their relatives’ release at al-Rayan military camp, according to Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer for the detainees.
Since 2015, when the UAE and Saudi Arabia intervened in Yemen to support the government against the Houthi movement, Rayan airbase has been under UAE military control.
According to Barman, the Emirati and Yemeni governments gave money to the six who were released in July.
The United Nations (UN) and human rights organizations have asked Abu Dhabi and Washington to avoid forcing detainees back to their home countries, where they may suffer harsher abuse and incarceration.
The 18 inmates were “allegedly forced to sign documents consenting to their repatriation” or remain permanently in Emirati detention, according to UN rights experts last year.
Their transfer to Gulf states was part of US President Barack Obama’s intention to close the prison center at Guantanamo Bay, which has sparked worldwide outrage.