Saudi authorities received a group of 14 Saudis Saturday from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the state-run news agency reported.
This latest transfer of detainees brings the number of Saudi nationals remaining in Guantanamo to 22, the Saudi Press Agency said. It quoted Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz as saying that those returned will be referred to Saudi courts.
There were no details given about what charges the men may face in court and up until now no one released into Saudi custody has yet been tried, said officials.
U.S. authorities’ last transfer of Saudis from Guantanamo was in September when 16 prisoners were returned.
The Pentagon confirmed the transfer in a statement released late Friday, saying that 305 detainees remained in Guantanamo, including more than 70 who have been deemed eligible for transfer or release.
”Departure of these detainees is subject to ongoing discussions between the United States and other nations,” the statement said.
Of the 759 people who have been held at Guantanamo, 136 have been Saudis, the second-largest group after Afghan nationals, according to U.S. Defense Department documents released to The Associated Press.
The detention of Saudis at the U.S. naval base in Cuba has been a source of tension with Riyadh, a close U.S. ally. Three Saudis have committed suicide inside the detention camp since it opened in 2002, according to the U.S. military.
Despite the close strategic relationship between the two countries, many citizens of Saudi Arabia have been actively involved in Islamist groups striking U.S. targets, including in Iraq and in the Sept. 11 attacks.