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US to transfer two Gitmo detainees to Algeria

Last Updated: Saturday, July 27, 2013 - 10:37

Washington: The United States is planning to transfer two Guantanamo Bay detainees to Algeria as part of the renewed effort of the Obama Administration to close the the controversial military-run facility in Cuba.

"In support of those efforts, today the Department of Defence certified to Congress its intent to repatriate an additional two detainees to Algeria. We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security," the White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney said.

The move signalled a new push to reduce the number of detainees, currently at 166, at the prison where dozens are on a hunger strike to draw attention to their indefinite detention.

Despite US President Barack Obama`s effort to shutter the prison, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress have repeatedly resisted. The House voted 247-175 Tuesday to reject an amendment that would have allowed Obama to begin closing the facility.

"We continue to call on Congress to join us in supporting these efforts by lifting the current restrictions that significantly limit our ability to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo, even those who have been approved for transfer," Carney said.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, applauded the announcement and called on the Obama administration to work to transfer out the 84 other detainees who have been cleared.

"This is an important step toward closing the prison once and for all. At a cost of USD 454 million annually-or USD 2.7 million per detainee-it is in the national security interests of the United States to transfer these detainees to their home countries rather than keep them at our isolated military base in Cuba," she said.

"These transfers have been impeded by congressional action, and I strongly support the provisions in this year`s defence authorisation bill, as approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee, that will provide more flexibility to the commander-in-chief," she added.

However, Senator Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, alleged that people across America are very concerned that the Obama administration still has no plan for these "hard-core terrorists" if efforts to close Guantanamo are successful.

"Sending them to countries where al Qaeda and its affiliates operate and continue to attack our interests is not a solution. With the recidivism rate now at 28 per cent, no detainee should be transferred to any place unless we are absolutely confident he will be effectively monitored and cannot renew terrorist ties," Chambliss said.

Seven Algerian detainees remain at Guantanamo, including five who have been cleared for transfer.

In 2010, six Algerian detainees resisted efforts to be repatriated, saying they`d rather stay at the prison camp than return to their home country.

The most prominent case was that of Aziz Abdul Naji, who argued all the way to the Supreme Court that he might face torture in Algeria. The Supreme Court rejected his plea, and he was transferred in 2010, indicted and placed under judicial supervision.


First Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013 - 10:37

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