Washington: The US on Thursday announced its decision to transfer two detainees from its Guantanamo Bay detention centre to Algeria, even as the Obama administration failed to meet its self-imposed deadline to close it by January 22.
The two Algerian detainees, who are being transferred are Hasan Zemiri and Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, the Department of Justice said in a statement.
Eight detainees were transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Algeria under the previous Bush administration. Today, 196 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.
Meanwhile, the White House today said the Obama administration is committed to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.
"The President won`t meet the deadline he laid out a year ago, but the President, his national security team, our generals in Iraq and Afghanistan, understand the support for al Qaeda that Guantanamo provides them in recruiting, in attracting those that seek to do us harm," the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.
"To keep the American people safe, the President pledged to close Guantanamo Bay, and he`ll do that," Gibbs said.
Responding to a question, when the process of transferring the Gitmo detainees would be completed, Gibbs said, "I don`t know when the process will be done. I know they`ve made great progress on -- look, establishing first and foremost case files and recognitions of who indeed was still there and why, the -- there have been progress on that; there`s been progress on issues of a new detention facility."
The Department of Justice said, as directed by the President`s January 22, 2009 Executive Order, the inter agency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these two cases.
As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including the potential threat posed by each individual and the receiving country`s demonstrated capabilities to mitigate potential threats posed by the individuals in their home country, each detainee was approved for transfer, the statement said.
The transfers were approved by unanimous consent among all the agencies involved in the review including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Departments of Defense, State, Justice and Homeland Security.
"In accordance with Congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the Administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these detainees at least 15 days before their transfer".
"These transfers were carried out under an arrangement between the United States and the Government of Algeria. The United States coordinated with the Government of Algeria to ensure the transfers took place under appropriate security measures.," it said.