Guantanamo update

1. Transfers

A Spanish foreign ministry official confirmed on Monday 18 January 2010 that Spain will be accepting two detainees currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. One of the detainees is said to be of Yemeni origin, while the nationality of the other was not released. Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said last week that an agreement between Spain and the US was close to completion in anticipation of the transfer. The detainees are expected to be transferred to Spain over the next few weeks.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Friday 22 January 2010 that two Guantanamo Bay detainees have been transferred to Algeria. Hassan Zumiri had spent more than seven years in the Guantanamo detention center, while Adil Hadi al-Jazairi bin Hamlili had been held for five. (for more infos on the two detainees, see the link). Both men are Algerian nationals, bringing the total number of Algerians released from Guantanamo to 19. The announcement did not make clear whether the men went home as free men or were to be held by Algerian authorities for further trial or investigation under an agreement that transferred them to “the custody and control of the government of Algeria.”

The US DOJ announced on Monday 25 January 2010 that three Guantanamo Bay detainees have been transferred to Slovakia. The DOJ made this statement about the transfer:

“The identities of these three individuals are being withheld at the request of the Government of Slovakia for security and privacy reasons. The United States is grateful to the Government of Slovakia for its willingness to support US efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.”

The US DOJ announced on Tuesday 26 January 2010 that an Uzbek Guantanamo Bay detainee has been transferred to Switzerland. The detainee, whose identity will not be disclosed in order to facilitate his transition into life in Switzerland, was unanimously approved for transfer. The Swiss government agreed to accept the detainee for resettlement “on humanitarian grounds” after reassurances from the US that the man was not convicted of any crime and will not be a threat to public safety. The detainee was originally cleared for release in 2005, but could not return to Uzbekistan for fear of persecution.

2. New task force report

A yearlong review of evidence against men who are being held as terrorism suspects at Guantanamo has concluded that “roughly” 50 of the detainees should be held indefinitely, even when there isn’t enough valid evidence to prosecute them. Only 35 of the men should face trial, either in civilian or military courts, the review concluded. That’s far fewer than the 60 or 70 cases that the Pentagon’s chief prosecutor has originally said his unit is preparing to try before military commissions.

The review, whose results have been divulged to a handful of reporters but not publicly announced, provides the first specific numbers for what the Obama administration thinks should be done with the detainees who are still at Guantanamo.

The official didn’t explain how the panel had reached its decisions and didn’t break down the various categories of detainees by nationality. According to the official, Obama’s National Security Council still could revise the panel’s conclusions “in light of variables that could change a detainee’s status.” Among those variables, the official said, might be court rulings ordering their release or a change of conditions in a country such as Yemen.

3. Reprieve asks for further investigation into 2006 Guantanamo suicides
UK-based human rights group Reprieve issued a statement  on Tuesday 19 January 2010 suggesting that the Obama administration has suppressed information relating to the investigation of three 2006 Guantanamo Bay suicides and urging further inquiries. The statement comes in response to an article for an upcoming issue of Harper’s Magazine, in which former guards at the prison indicate that the three prisoners experienced intense interrogations in a remote area of the base just hours before the apparent suicide.

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