MIAMI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia hopes to have all of its citizens returned from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay within a year, the Saudi ambassador to the United States said on Thursday.
“We’re working with (the U.S.) government on this to have them back in batches,” said Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador to Washington. “They are being processed through the court system in Saudi Arabia.”
The United States has stepped up efforts to repatriate many of the 450 suspected al Qaeda and Taliban captives held at the U.S. naval base and has negotiated a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia for the return of its citizens. It sent home 15 in May and 14 in late June, and Saudi officials were reviewing whether they should face charges in their homeland.
About 95 of the men still held at Guantanamo are Saudi citizens and Al-Faisal said he expected all of them to be repatriated “probably within a year.”
“That’s my estimate, but it’s an estimate. Hopefully nothing will intercede with that,” he told Reuters after speaking to students at Florida International University in Miami.
Al-Faisal has said previously that if any of the Guantanamo Saudis committed crimes, they should be tried in Saudi courts.
Two Saudis are among the 10 Guantanamo prisoners charged with war crimes in the tribunal system struck down last month by the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other Saudis were among the three prisoners who hanged themselves at Guantanamo in June.