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Guantanamo Bay prisoner released, reducing total held there to 59

MIAMI - A prisoner from Yemen at the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been released and sent to the West African nation of Cape Verde for resettlement.

The Pentagon says the release announced Sunday of Shawqi Awad Balzuhair lowers the number of prisoners held at the U.S. base in Cuba to 59. Twenty of those remaining have been approved for release.

Some Guantanamo Bay prisoners held for years without charges

Balzuhair has been held at Guantanamo without charge since October 2002 following his capture along with several other suspected al-Qaida militants in Karachi, Pakistan. A U.S. government review board determined he was a “low-level militant” and approved his release in 2016.

CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan reports the 35-year-old is believed to have only received basic training at an al-Qaeda camp pre-9/11.

The U.S. does not send prisoners back to Yemen because of the civil war and had to find another country to accept him. Cape Verde accepted another prisoner in 2010.

President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to stop the prison from closing has left the fate of many prisoners in limbo.

Saifullah Paracha is the oldest detainee at 69. He claims his encounters with both Osama bin Laden and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed were innocent.

Paracha’s lawyer David Remes is afraid the prison doors will slam shut when Donald Trump takes office. His client told him the prisoners were on edge on election night.   

“He said that many detainees thought that it was the end of the world and felt terrible and that many detainees asked for tranquilizers, sleeping pills, because they were so distraught,” Remes said.