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Pentagon Says Dozens of Guantanamo Detainees Could Be Released Pending Home Government Assurances


A detainee is escorted to interrogation by US military guards at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base
The U.S. military says it is prepared to release about 60 detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but has not received the necessary assurances from the detainees' home countries.

The officer in charge of the process of reviewing detainees' cases, Rear Admiral James McGarrah, says the latest series of 70 reviews concluded that four detainees should be released, and 25 others can be transferred to the custody of their home governments for possible prosecution. The admiral says those men have been added to the list of other detainees approved for departure from Guantanamo, whose governments have not yet provided the necessary assurances. He would not say what countries are involved.

"There are some currently at Guantanamo Bay that we would like to release, but have not yet obtained the appropriate assurances to do so," he said. "Transferring a detainee will only take place after the U.S. government has discussions with the country of transfer, and after our government receives necessary assurances regarding security measures, and regarding how the detainee will be treated upon their transfer."

Admiral McGarrah says the United States wants assurances that the detainees will not be mistreated, and also that they will not be able to return to the ranks of terrorists and insurgents. At least 12 men released from Guantanamo over the last two years have later been caught or killed during counter-insurgency operations.

Admiral McGarrah supervises a review process required by the U.S. Congress, which gives detainees the opportunity to make their case for release at least once every year. There are currently about 520 detainees at Guantanamo, about 200 fewer than the highest number the facility has held.

The admiral says all have been determined to be "enemy combatants," and that, therefore, they can be held until the war on terrorism is over. But he says the United States is prepared to release or transfer those who it classifies as "low threat," and who have no further value for intelligence purposes, but only if it receives the necessary assurances from their home governments.

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