The United States intends to repatriate two detainees held at its controversial prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Algeria, the White House said on Friday, marking the first such transfer to another country in nearly a year.
The step is the latest by the Obama administration that is meant to show his commitment to closing the prison. Obama promised as a presidential candidate in 2008 to do away with the facility but has been unable to do so.
“We are taking this step in consultation with the Congress, and in a responsible manner that protects our national security,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney in a statement.
“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,” he said.
Carney said Obama remained determined to close the Guantanamo facility.
Congress has imposed restrictions on transfers from the camp, including a ban on any of the prisoners being brought to the United States.
The U.S. military has been holding foreign captives at the base for more than a decade. There are currently 166 detainees, many of whom were cleared for release years ago.