The Pentagon announced late Tuesday the transfer to Kazakhstan of five detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, making 2014 the year with the highest number of releases since President Obama took office.
The releases are in keeping with Obama’s pledge to eventually close the facility, though lawmakers have objected to his efforts to relocate some detainees to the U.S.
The five men, three from Yemen and two Tunisians, had been scheduled to leave Monday. But aircraft problems delayed their exit until Tuesday, U.S. military officials said. The total number of remaining detainees is 127.
None of the freed prisoners was ever charged with a crime, and all were cleared for release as early as 2009.
The Yemenis were identified as Asim Thabit Abdullah Khalaqi, 46, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna, 36, and Sabri Muhammad Ibrahim Qurashi, 44. The Tunisians were identified as Adel Hakeemy, 49, and Abdullah Bin Ali Lufti, who turns 49 on Thursday.
U.S. authorities did not give an explanation for why the five men were allowed to leave now, or how they will be resettled in Kazakhstan.
Government records released by WikiLeaks showed that Lufti has had severe heart problems and in 1999 was given a mechanical heart valve. He also has suffered from kidney stones and tuberculosis.
In 2004, he was listed as being of “medium intelligence value” to the U.S. and often incompliant, but as a “low risk” because of his health issues. He was captured and sent to Guantanamo in 2003.
In all, 28 detainees were freed in 2014.
Cliff Sloan, Obama’s envoy for transferring detainees, announced last week he was leaving the post after reportedly being upset that more men were not being freed, especially those who have been cleared for years and yet remain inside the prison fortress.