A prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay detention center has been sent back to his native Saudi Arabia to serve out the remainder of a 13-year sentence, making him the first detainee to leave the U.S. base in Cuba since President Donald Trump took office.
The Pentagon announced the transfer of Ahmed Mohammed al Darbi in a brief statement Wednesday, though he likely departed on a flight several days earlier and had originally been scheduled to return home as part of a plea deal no later than Feb. 20.
Al Darbi pleaded guilty before a military commission at the U.S. base in Cuba in 2014 to charges stemming from an al Qaeda attack on a French oil tanker.
He is expected to serve out the rest of his sentence, about nine years, in a Saudi rehabilitation program as part of a plea deal that included extensive testimony against others held at Guantanamo.
During the election Trump had promised of the naval base: 'We're going to load it up with some bad dudes.' In fact it now has fewer detainees than when Barack Obama left office as no new detainees have arrived and al Darbi has gone.
Moved: Ahmed Mohammed al Darbi had been expected to stay in Guantanamo for the next 13 years but instead will become the first prisoner transferred since Obama left office. Trump has not added any new detainees despite a pledge to do so
Election pledge: Donald Trump had spoken during the election campaign and promised during the election to 'load it up with some bad dudes'
His lead defense counsel, Ramzi Kassem, said the transfer was the culmination of '16 long and painful years in captivity' by the U.S. at Guantanamo and in Afghanistan, with his children growing up without him and his own father dying.
'While it may not make him whole, my hope is that repatriation at least marks the end of injustice for Ahmed,' said Kassem, a law professor at the City University of New York who has represented the prisoner since 2008.
Al Darbi was captured at the airport in Baku, Azerbaijan, in June 2002 and taken to the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan.
He has testified to being kept in solitary confinement, strung up from a door in shackles, deprived of sleep and subjected to other forms of abuse as part of his early interrogation.
In a statement released by Kassem, who was