WASHINGTON - The United States has transferred a dozen Guantanamo detainees to Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia’s Somaliland region as the Obama administration continues to move captives out of the facility in Cuba in preparation for its closure.
The Justice Department said yesterday that a government task force had reviewed each case, considering the potential threat and the government’s likelihood of success in court challenges to the detentions.
Over the weekend, four Afghan detainees were transferred to Afghanistan. Two Somali detainees were transferred to authorities in Somaliland, the semi-autonomous northern region of Somalia. Six Yemeni detainees also were sent home.
The Justice Department said that more than 560 detainees have departed the military prison in Cuba since 2002, and that 198 remain.
Mohammed Albasha, Yemen’s embassy spokesman, said his embassy “hails the release and transfer of six of its citizens from Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. Yemen will continue its diplomatic dialogue with the United States Government to repatriate the remaining Yemeni detainees.’’
The administration has announced that five detainees will be tried in a New York federal court and more are likely to be tried in this country. Up to 100 detainees will be sent to a nearly empty prison in Thomson, Ill.
In Rome, state-run and private television stations said a third Tunisian detainee from Guantanamo Bay is being moved to Italy to face international terrorism charges for having allegedly recruited fighters for Afghanistan.
President Obama said that he will not set a new deadline for closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison, but that he does expect the facility to shut down sometime next year.
The administration has abandoned the January 2010 deadline Obama set for closure soon after taking office. Obama has said he realized that things move more slowly in Washington than he expected.