The inmates in Guantanamo Bay have dropped to 40 following the release of a Saudi inmate, Ahmed Haza al-Darbi, back to his country.
Pentagon said it was transferring him to his homeland, the first such move under President Donald Trump.
The widely expected transfer of Ahmed Haza al-Darbi, who pleaded guilty to helping plan a 2002 attack on a French oil tanker, was announced Wednesday and reduced the notorious jail’s population to 40.
But news of the move came the same day as the Pentagon said Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had sent the White House guidance on how Guantanamo might again start receiving new inmates — an oft-stated goal of Trump.
Darbi entered a plea deal in February 2014 that saw him admit to planning, aiding and supporting an attack on the MV Limburg, which killed a Bulgarian sailor, injured a dozen and caused a large oil spill in the Gulf of Aden.
He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, starting from the date of the plea.
However, the deal included a provision that after four more years at Guantanamo, he could serve the remainder of his term at a luxurious rehab centre in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where former extremists are given counselling and ideological detoxification.
A security spokesman told Saudia Arabia’s state news agency SPA that Darbi arrived back in the kingdom late on Wednesday evening.
His family had been informed of his return and arrangements were being made for him to meet them, the spokesman said, confirming that Darbi would now join a “rehabilitation programme”.
Guantanamo has not received any new inmates since 2008, but on the campaign trail Trump vowed to load the facility with “bad dudes,” and said it would be “fine” if US terror suspects were sent there for trial.
Trump in January signed an executive order reversing his predecessor Barack Obama’s ultimately fruitless 2009 directive to shut Guantanamo.