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Contact: Nidya Sarria, [email protected]

Today the Department of Defense announced 15 detainees were transferred from the Guantánamo Bay detention site. Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program Director Naureen Shah issued the following statement:

“This is a powerful sign that President Obama is serious about closing Guantánamo before he leaves office. With these transfers, Guantánamo’s population will be reduced by one-fifth.

“It is vital he keep the momentum. If President Obama fails to close Guantánamo, the next administration could fill it with new detainees and it could become permanent. It would be an extremely dangerous legacy of allowing people to be detained without charge, in an endless global war, practically until they die.

“One of the transferred detainees is Obaidullah, an Afghan man whose experiences were documented in the Amnesty International report, “I am fallen into darkness.” Obaidullah has been detained without trial for 14 years, and has never touched or held his daughter, who was born two days before he was seized from his home in 2002. Obaidullah alleges that he was tortured and subjected to other cruel treatment, including beatings and threats of sexual abuse, while in U.S. military custody.

“Many of the remaining detainees have been held without charge for a decade or more. Each detainee must either be charged and face trial in federal court, or be released to countries that will respect their human rights.  As long as Guantánamo remains open, the US risks making this ugly stain on its human rights record permanent.”