Four more detainees have been transferred out of the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Three men from North Africa have been accepted by Albania, with the remaining man from the Palestinian Territories being accepted by Spain.
Both Reuters and Al Jazeera report that, following the announcement on Wednesday of the latest releases, there are now 188 prisoners left in a facility that President Obama vowed to close by January this year, shortly after taking office in January 2009.
Wednesday's announcement was made by the U.S. Justice Department.
According to the Associated Press Albania, a country in the area of Southeastern Europe known as the Balkans, has since 2006 accepted eight former prisoners from Guantanamo, although it is not clear if that number is inclusive of the latest arrivals, named as Saleh Bin Hadi Asasi, Sharif Fati Ali al Mishad and Rauf Omar Mohammad Abu al Qusin.
The men - originally from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya respectively - can expect to receive assistance in finding work in Albania but will not be allowed to leave the former Communist country.
Meanwhile Walid Hijazi, whose home town is in Gaza, has apparently become the first of five Guantanamo detainees Spain has agreed to accept to arrive in the country which sits on the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean.
Some sources are reporting that the name of the man released into the care of the Spanish authorities has not been disclosed but the Associated Press claims to have confirmed his identity via an anonymous family member.
As with the men transferred to Albania Walid Hijazi is allowed to find work in the country that has taken him in but he cannot leave his new home.
Of the 580 plus inmates who have reportedly left Guantanamo since 2002, for 39 different countries, 48 have been transferred during the time Barack Obama has served as President. One other man has been transferred to New York to face charges related to the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya in 1998.
A majority of those held at some stage in Guantanamo were captured during the fighting that followed the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. There have been rumors of female prisoners held at the facility but there has apparently been no corroboration of those rumors.
Petitions in U.S. courts have secured the release of 32 detainees from a facility President Obama is still committed to closing, while 11 inmates have made unsuccessful requests for release.
Fear of reprisals if returned to their home countries is one reason for finding new homes for the former inmates.
There are concerns too that some men may return to their terrorist activities, if indeed they had ever been involved in terrorism prior to their detention.
One country of particular concern to the U.S. authorities is Yemen.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to blow up a plane heading for Detroit on December 25, is said to have been trained in Yemen and there have been reports of ex-inmates of Guantanamo Bay joining up with al-Qaeda once more, upon their return to Yemen.
Al Jazeera notes that approximately half of the 188 men still detained in Guantanamo are from Yemen, observing too that transfers to the country on the Arabian Peninsula were suspended last month.
The inability of the U.S. to find countries willing to accept detainees has been one of the major obstacles to the closure of the facility in Cuba.
France, Ireland, Switzerland and Bulgaria are another four of the 11 European countries in total that have consented to taking in former detainees..