The first of the transfers are expected in the next few days and
the others will take place in coming weeks, said the official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity. Among them will be Tariq Ba Odah, a
Yemeni man who has been on a long-term hunger strike and has lost
about half of his body weight.
There are now 91 prisoners at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba. Most have been held without charge or trial for more than a
decade, drawing international condemnation.
Obama, who last month presented Congress with a blueprint for
closing the prison, is seeking to make good on his long-time pledge
before he leaves office in January. But he faces stiff opposition
from many Republican lawmakers, as well as some of his fellow
The Pentagon has notified Congress of its latest planned transfers
from among the 37 detainees already cleared to be sent to their
homelands or other countries, the official said. U.S. officials have
said they expect to move out all members of that group by this
Obama’s plan for shuttering the facility calls for bringing the
several dozen remaining prisoners to maximum-security prison in the
United States. But U.S. law bars such transfers to the mainland, and
Obama has not ruled out doing so by use of executive action.
"I do not have a timeline on when particular detainees will be
transferred from Guantanamo," Commander Gary Ross, a Defense
Department spokesman, said in a statement. "However, the
administration is committed to reducing the detainee population and
to closing the detention facility responsibly."
The most prominent of those to be resettled over the next several
weeks is Bah Odah, a 37-year-old Yemeni who has been force-fed by
nasal tube since he stopped eating solid food in 2007.
His weight had dropped to 74 pounds from 148 and his legal team
feared he could die of starvation, according to an account in a
Reuters report at the end of December.
[to top of second column]
Lawyers for Ba Odah, who was cleared for transfer in 2009, had tried
unsuccessfully to win his release on health and humanitarian
grounds, but Pentagon officials said he was receiving proper care.
The plan to resettle about a dozen inmates was first reported by the
Washington Post. The U.S. official declined to name the countries
ready to take them in.
Ten Yemeni men were sent to Oman in January. Others were recently
sent to Ghana, Bosnia and Montenegro. The Obama administration has
ruled out sending Yemenis, who make up the bulk of the remaining
prisoners, to their homeland because it is engulfed in civil war and
has an active Al Qaeda branch.
Guantanamo prisoners were rounded up overseas when the United States
became embroiled in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following the Sept.
11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. The facility, opened
by Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush, came to symbolize aggressive
detention practices that opened the United States to accusations of
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Sandra Maler and Clarence
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