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More Guantanamo Bay Detainees Released, This Time To Afghanistan

The inmates had all been held at the detention facility for more than 11 years.

Posted on December 20, 2014, at 11:55 a.m. ET

ap Brennan Linsley

Four Guantanamo Bay inmates have been returned to their home country of Afghanistan, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Saturday — the latest in a flurry of prisoner releases from the controversial detention facility in recent weeks.

The four repatriated to Afghanistan were identified as Shawali Khan, Khi Ali Gul, Abdul Ghani, and Mohammed Zahir.

All the men had been held at the Cuba detention facility for more than 11 years.

Department of Defense

Shawali Khan

Department of Defense

Khi Ali Gul

Department of Defense

Abdul Ghani

Department of Defense

Mohammed Zahir

In a statement, the Pentagon said the men were "unanimously approved for release" after being reviewed by a task force that examined whether they still pose a security threat to the U.S.

"The United States is grateful to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for its willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," the Pentagon statement read.

"The United States coordinated with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures," the Pentagon said.

The repatriation of the detainees comes just weeks after six inmates were transferred to Uruguay, becoming the first Guantanamo detainees to be released to South America.

In November, one prisoner was sent to Saudi Arabia, while five others were released to Eastern Europe.

The releases are part of a renewed effort from the Obama administration to wind down the controversial detention facility, but 132 detainees still remain.