Biden administration clears 3 more Guantanamo detainees for release, joining 6 still in limbo

Guantanamo protesters
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Biden administration has cleared three more detainees at the U.S. military's Guantanamo Bay prison camp for release, lawyers for the detainees and U.S. government officials told The New York Times on Monday. None of the men has been charged with a crime and all of them have been in U.S. custody since 2002 or 2003.

The three cleared men include the oldest Guantanamo detainee — Saifullah Paracha, 73, of Pakistan — and one of the first men transferred to the prison camp under former President George W. Bush, 40-year-old Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman of Yemen. The third detainee is Abdul Rabbani, 54, of Pakistan.

The detainees can now be transferred to a country that will take them, usually under specified security conditions, but it isn't clear when that will happen. Six other current Guantanamo detainees cleared for release have spent years waiting for the State Department to reach agreement with a new host country.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Former President Donald Trump, who released one detainee to Saudi Arabia during his term and sought to increase the number of detainees at the prison camp, shuttered the office charged with closing the Guantanamo prison. "Despite a pledge to renew the Obama administration effort to end detention operations at the Navy base in Cuba, the Biden administration has yet to restart the transfers," the Times reports. "For now, it has not designated a senior U.S. official to negotiate the deals with other countries."

The Bush administration imprisoned about 780 men at Guantanamo, then cut that number to 242 by the time former President Barack Obama took office. Obama reduced the number to 41 and tried unsuccessfully to transfer the remaining detainees to high-security U.S. prisons.

Of the remaining detainees, one has been convicted of war crimes, 11 more have been charged, and 19 are deemed too dangerous for transfer to another country. The attorney general, defense secretary, secretary of state, homeland security secretary, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and director of national intelligence all have to sign off on a detainee's clearance for release.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.

Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.