The list represents about a third of the 167 terrorist suspects still in detention at Guantanamo more than 11 years after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Many of the men are from Yemen, where President Barack Obama suspended repatriations in 2010 because of U.S. concerns that prisoners could become involved with al-Qaida militants based there.
Friday’s release marks a reversal of the Obama administration’s 2009 decision to keep the names of cleared detainees secret.
The administration says it protected the information to “maintain flexibility” in negotiating potential detainee transfers to other countries.
But the government said in a court filing Friday that “circumstances have changed” such that decisions to approve prisoners for transfer “no longer warrant protection.”
It pointed out that 28 detainees have been repatriated to their native countries since 2009, while 40 have been resettled in third countries.
American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Zachary Katznelson welcomed the release of the names, calling it a “partial victory for transparency” that should also be a “spur to action.” Katznelson said the identified detainees have spent three years in prison since the U.S. military and intelligence agencies agreed they should be released. He said it is “well past time” for the government to release and resettle the men, describing them as “unfairly imprisoned.”
Katznelson also noted the death earlier this month of Guantanamo prisoner and Yemen native Adnan Latif. He said Latif died in his cell despite having been previously approved for release. Latif is the ninth prisoner known to have died at Guantanamo.