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Italy agrees to take two more Guantanamo detainees

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini [official profile] announced Tuesday that Italy will take two more detainees from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility [JURIST news archive]. The announcement came during a meeting the US officials from the National Security Council, including National Security Adviser James Jones. Italy's Interior Ministry [official website, in Italian] will review profiles of potential transferees before an agreement is made with US authorities on which detainees Italy will take. Italy hinted at the possibility that the selected detainees may be brought to Italy as cleared captives [Miami Herald report] rather than face trial or additional jail time. Last year, Italy accepted three Tunisian detainees [JURIST report] from Guantanamo to stand trial for terrorism charges.

The Obama administration continues its push to close the Guantanamo Bay facility, despite missing its self-imposed one-year deadline [JURIST report] in January. The administration has run into several hurdles in closing the prison, including opposition from members of Congress and the suspension of detainee transfers to Yemen [JURIST report]. Last week, the US House Armed Services Committee [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] prohibiting the Obama administration from modifying or building a facility in the US to hold detainees currently held at Guantanamo. The bill requires [summary, PDF] that any plan to construct or modify US facilities to accommodate Guantanamo transfers be "accompanied by a thorough and comprehensive plan that outlines the merits, costs, and risks associated with utilizing such a facility." As the Obama administration has not presented such a plan to Congress, the bill prohibits the use of any funds for the purpose of preparing a US facility for Guantanamo transfers. The number of detainees at Guantanamo has significantly been reduced as the administration continues to transfer detainees to a growing list of countries including Bulgaria, Spain, Maldives, Georgia, Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Algeria, Somaliland, Palau, Belgium, Afghanistan, and Bermuda [JURIST reports].

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