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Guantanamo prison may remain open until 2011: reports

[JURIST] The military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] may have to remain open until 2011 to allow an Illinois prison time to prepare for the arrival of the detainees, according to Wednesday reports [AP report]. A spokesperson for Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) [official website] said that the government's plan to purchase [JURIST report] the Thomson Correctional Center [official profile] in Illinois and refit it will take months to complete, rendering President Barack Obama's original promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility by January 22, 2010, impossible. In addition, Congress would have to change a law [JURIST report] that prevents Guantanamo detainees from being transferred to the US except for prosecution, and pass a bill approving funding for the project. There have been protests from both sides of the aisle and from Illinois residents against bringing the remaining detainees, who number under 200, to the prison. The commission that will recommend to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] whether to sell the prison to the federal government will not make a decision until the middle of January.

Attorney General Eric Holder has said that buying the facility in Illinois will speed the closure of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report], suggesting that the facility could be closed as early as next fall. In October, Holder announced that the Obama administration may miss its January deadline for closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, echoing prior statements [JURIST reports] by top administration officials. US President Barack Obama originally issued the executive order to close Guantanamo within a year [JURIST report] last January 22, two days after taking office.

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