A detainee who had been on a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay for nine years has been transferred out of the facility, the Obama administration announced Saturday.
According to a statement from the Defense Department, Tariq Ba Odah of Yemen has been transferred to Saudi Arabian custody along with eight other detainees, bringing the total number detained at the U.S. military base in Cuba down to 80.
Military officials had been force-feeding Ba Odah daily, strapping him down and pumping a liquefied supplement through his nose to his stomach. He began his hunger strike in 2007 and had lost roughly half his body weight. At one point last year, the 37-year-old weighed as little as 74 pounds.
While the military has said that Ba Odah was clinically stable, his attorneys had submitted testimony from doctors warning that his hunger strike could have ended in his death.
“Ba Odah faces persistent, serious medical risk even without losing any more weight,” Sondra S. Crosby of Boston University said in a court filing.
The Washington Post reported on March 30 that Ba Odah would leave the facility. He was moved to Guantanamo in 2002 and had been cleared to be transferred out of the facility in 2009. Military documents published by the transparency organization WikiLeaks suggest that the Yemeni was a suspected member of al-Qaida.
Ba Odah and the other detainees whose transfers were announced were all Yemenis, according to the Associated Press. The administration has been unable to send them home because Congress has barred transfers to Yemen.