GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The Pentagon Tuesday bowed to a federal court order and sent a captive home to Yemen -- the first transfer since the Obama administration halted detainee repatriations to the Arabian Peninsula nation over the botched Christmas Day bombing.
``The administration respects the decisions of the U.S. federal courts,'' said a Army Maj. Tanya Bradsher, who announced the release here of Mohammed Odaini, 26. He also went by the name Mohammed Hassen.
The then teenaged Yemeni was caught up in a March 2002 Pakistani security forces raid on two suspected al Qaeda safe houses that targeted up Arabs in the city of Faisalabad.
But he had long maintained he was in Pakistan to study the Koran and had no links to al Qaeda. Judge Henry K. Kennedy Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Washington ordered his release on May 26 in a ruling that found him unlawfully detained.
Yemeni captives are the largest single nationality among the 180 captives here and have presented a major roadblock to President Barack Obama's order to empty the prison camps. Dozens are cleared for release under an Obama task force that studied detainee files -- so long as the U.S. can negotiate secure transfer arrangements for them.
But the White House declared a moratorium to the turbulent Arabian Gulf nation of Yemen after Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula claimed credit for Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab's ill-fated attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest plane on Christmas Day.
In announcing the transfer, Bradsher said the Pentagon notified Congress at least 15 days before and that it may have been an aberration.
``The suspension of Yemeni repatriations from Guantanamo remains in effect due to the security situation that exists there,'' she said. ``As with all transfers, the U.S. Government will work with the Yemeni Government to the fullest extent possible to implement appropriate security measures.''
Defense attorney David Remes, who argued Odaini's case in federal court, had called his detention ``a tragedy.''
Monday's transfer left 13 captives among the 180 here who had won their habeas corpus unlawful detention suits in federal court. The Obama administration was appealing some of them, and seeking nations to safely resettle others.