(Washington) Democrats-elect on Thursday called on President Joe Biden to close the Guantánamo military prison and release or bring to justice the last 39 inmates suspected of being accomplices of al-Qaeda.
Posted on Aug 5, 2021 at 7:24 pm
As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks draws nearer, 75 elected House MPs wrote an open letter to the president, citing the excessive costs of this controversial detention center.
“Guantánamo Prison has housed up to 800 prisoners, but currently only 39 men, many of whom are getting older and weaker,” they emphasize in this letter.
“The prison costs more than $ 500 million a year, according to press reports, which is an exorbitant annual cost of $ 13 million per inmate,” they add.
The fact that it has still not closed 20 years later “damages our reputation abroad and undermines our ability to defend human rights and the rule of law,” said elected officials.
Guantánamo Prison was opened in early 2002 to arrest al-Qaeda members and alleged accomplices in the 9/11 attacks.
“We understand that the prison closure will take time, but we think it is time for you to make decisions,” wrote the Democrats-Elect to Joe Biden.
They propose that some of the prisoners be tried in federal courts, others returned to their country, and the last transferred to third countries that would pledge to ensure they are treated well and not pose a threat to the United States.
Most Guantánamo detainees were detained despite weak evidence of their involvement. Many were tortured at secret CIA locations before being transferred to Guantánamo.
Barack Obama, when he came to power in January 2009, ordered the prison to be closed with the idea of bringing prisoners to trial in civil courts. But the very unpopular decision had been blocked in Congress.
Mr Obama then preferred to discreetly release hundreds of detainees whose release had been approved by the Presidency Review Committee. These publications were interrupted under Donald Trump. They were readmitted under Joe Biden, with five inmates having approved their release since January.
Twelve Guantánamo prisoners, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, are awaiting trial before a military commission that has pronounced only two convictions in two decades.