Biden administration announces first Guantanamo detainee transfer

Washington — The Biden administration on Monday announced it transferred its first detainee out of Guantanamo Bay to Morocco after he was recommended for repatriation under the Obama administration.

The transfer of the detainee, Abdul Latif Nasir, comes after the Biden administration said in February it would be launching an interagency review of the U.S. military prison, which President Biden intends to close by the time he leaves office.

With Nasir’s repatriation, there are 39 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, according to the Defense Department. The Pentagon said in a statement it “commends the Kingdom of Morocco for its long-time partnership in securing both countries’ national security interests.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement the Biden administration “is dedicated to following a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population of the Guantanamo facility while also safeguarding the security of the United States and its allies.”

“Morocco’s leadership in facilitating Nasir’s repatriation, alongside its past willingness to return its foreign terrorist fighters from northeast Syria, should encourage other nations to repatriate their citizens who have traveled to fight for terrorist organizations abroad,” Price said.

A government panel in 2016 determined Nasir’s detention was no longer necessary and recommended he be repatriated to his native country of Morocco. But Nasir, who first arrived at the facility in May 2002, remained at Guantanamo Bay during the Trump administration.

The federal government alleges Nasir fought for several years with the Taliban in Kabul and Bagram, Afghanistan, and then at Tora Bora against U.S. forces in 2001, according to his Guantanamo detainee profile. A representative for Nasir told the review panel during a hearing in 2016 that he “deeply regrets his actions of the past” and has a “strong desire to put this unfortunate period of his life behind him and move on.”

In recommending Nasir’s transfer to Morocco in July 2016, the review board said his discharge would be “with the appropriate security assurances.”