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The U.S. military announced today that it released Ahmed Abdulaziz (which is also spelled Ahmed Ould Abdel Aziz) from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and transferred him to his home country of Mauritania. In response, Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, released the following statement:

“Abdulaziz’s transfer from Guantánamo is welcome news, and a sign of the administration’s commitment to actually getting the detention center closed before President Obama leaves office. Abdulaziz was cleared for transfer by the U.S. government in 2009. All told, he’s languished for over 13 years in U.S. custody, absent any charges or a trial. He alleges that in U.S. custody at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo he was subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“We hope that Abdulaziz’s release sets the stage for a substantial increase in transfers. President Obama signed an executive order in his first days in office ordering the closure of Guantánamo by January 2010. Now we’re nearing the president’s final year in office, and over 100 detainees remain in custody.

“Abdulaziz’s transfer comes on the heels of President Obama’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, in part due to restrictions on his ability to close Guantánamo. President Obama was right to push back against congressional efforts to keep Guantánamo open forever and play political football with the lives of 113 men still there. Now he must follow through by transferring without delay the more than two dozen men who have been cleared for transfer.

“The administration should also abandon any plan to relocate Guantánamo to the United States by bringing the remaining detainees to the U.S. mainland for indefinite detention. These detainees should either be prosecuted in federal court or released. Finally, the U.S. government must ensure accountability for the human rights violations suffered by detainees, including the 29 individuals still at Guantánamo who were subjected to the CIA’s secret detention program.”