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Five Guantanamo detainees transferred to United Arab Emirates

Five detainees held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been transferred to the United Arab Emirates. The Pentagon is expected to announce a long-awaited plan to close the controversial prison.

The United States announced Sunday the transfer of five Yemeni citizens - described as low-level operatives - to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a step in a long-delayed plan to close the controversial military prison in Cuba. The men had all been held for at least 13 years without charge.

"The United States coordinated with the government of the United Arab Emirates to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Some 107 detainees remain at the Guantanamo prison for suspected foreign militants, opened in 2001 for suspects caught in then-President George W. Bush's wide-ranging war on terror.

Inmates have been called "enemy combatants" and denied standard US legal rights, meaning many have been held for years without charge or trial. President Barack Obama, who campaigned on a pledge to close the prison,

views it as a damaging symbol of detainee abuse

but has been

blocked by opposition Republican lawmakers

in his efforts to shutter the military facility.

Symbolbild Guantanamo

Obama wants the prison closed before he leaves office in 2017

Strong opposition from Congress

Even so, the Defense Department is expected to unveil a long-awaited plan outlining how it would close the military prison - a move estimated to cost at least $400 million (373 million euros) annually - despite continued opposition from a Republican-dominated Congress.

The five released men were named Sunday as: Ali Ahmad Mohammed al-Razihi, Khalid Abd-al-Jabbar Mohammed Uthman al-Qadasi, Adil Said al-Hajj Ubayd al-Busays, Sulayman Awad Bin Uqayl al-Nahdi and Fahmi Salem Said al-Asani.

They are the first Guantanamo detainees to be accepted by the UAE for resettlement.

jar/cmk (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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