[JURIST] French President Nicholas Sarkozy [official profile; JURIST news archive] said Friday that his country would accept one Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee in a symbolic effort to aid the closure of the detention center. Sarkozy made the announcement ahead of this weekend's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) [official website] summit in Strasbourg, France and Kehl, Germany. According to reports, the detainee that would be taken in by France could be of Algerian origin [AFP report]. Sarkozy congratulated US President Barack Obama [official profile] on his January decision to order the closure of Guantanamo [executive order; JURIST report] during the first meeting between the two heads of state this week.
Obama's order directed that the military prison be closed "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order," and also instructed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates immediately to halt military commission [DOD materials; JURIST news archive] proceedings pending a comprehensive review of all Guantanamo detentions under the supervision of the Attorney General. The order did not specify where detainees would go upon release, but did call for diplomatic efforts with foreign states in order to facilitate the closure of the facility. Last month, top officials from the Obama administration met with leaders from the European Union (EU) [official website; JURIST news archive] to discuss plans to transfer [JURIST report] Guantanamo Bay detainees to European countries. Individual member states have also indicated their openness to accepting detainees, including Lithuania, Ireland, Germany, and Portugal [JURIST reports]. Other states have expressed reservations about accepting detainees, including Poland and Spain, while Italy [JURIST reports] and the Netherlands [AFP report] have said they will not accept detainees.