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July 22, 2013

US to Hold New Hearings for 71 Guantanamo Detainees

by VOA News

The U.S. says it plans to hold new hearings on whether 71 of the 166 suspected terrorists held at its prison at Guantanamo Bay are still a threat to the United States.

U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the reviews more than two years ago, but it has taken officials since then to arrange the hearings for those being held. The Defense Department said Monday the hearings will not examine whether the detainees are being held lawfully, but whether they still constitute a threat to the country warranting continued detention at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

There was no timetable set for the hearings, but the Pentagon said they would begin when “all the reasonable conditions have been set.”  The hearing panels will include Defense, Justice, Homeland Security, State Department and intelligence officials.

Many of the 71 detainees are considered too dangerous to release, yet there is not enough permissible evidence to warrant criminal trials.

Mr. Obama is seeking to close the Guantanamo prison on the Cuban shoreline, but has been thwarted by U.S. lawmakers. Some are opposed to closing the facility and releasing certain prisoners to their home countries while sending others to prisons in the U.S.  

The Guantanamo prison was opened after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States as a facility to hold suspected militants captured on the battlefield by American forces.