DUBAIÂ – Ten Saudis returned home on Saturday from detention in the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay where al Qaeda militants are held, the Saudi Interior Ministry said.
Washington has returned dozens of Saudis over the past year in an effort to reduce the numbers detained at the controversial camp ahead of finally closing it but around 13 are still held at the facility.
Public anger over the treatment of Saudi detainees in Guantanamo Bay has been high in the kingdom, a close U.S. ally but one which applies Islamic law.
Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz told the official Saudi Press Agency that efforts were underway to bring home the rest, and that U.S. authorities were cooperating.
Those repatriated to Saudi Arabia have received financial help from the government to rebuild their lives and many have been allowed to go free.
Fahd al-Shamri, a Riyadh-based lawyer representing families of Saudis held at Guantanamo, called for the release of those still held at Guantanamo Bay.
“We hope the next batch will be the last so that we turn this bleak page and bring to an end the suffering of the families of these detainees,” he said in a statement.
Washington has designated Guantanamo prisoners, who were mainly seized in Afghanistan after the 2001 U.S. invasion, as “enemy combatants.” They have been denied the prisoner-of-war status that would guarantee them certain rights under international law.
Two Saudis were among three prisoners who hanged themselves at the naval base in June.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who carried out the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on the United States were Saudis and Osama bin Laden himself is Saudi-born.