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State Department appoints new envoy to help close Guantanamo

[JURIST] US Secretary of State John Kerry [official profile] on Tuesday appointed [press release] Lee Wolowsky [professional profile] the new envoy to lead the Obama administration's efforts to close the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder]. Wolowsky is a former National Security Council director under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and current partner at a law firm. Kerry anticipates that by engaging and consulting with US agencies, Congressional committees, and international allies:

Lee will lead [the United States'] ongoing diplomatic engagement to make possible the closure of the Guantanamo detention facility in a timely manner, consistent with American interests and the security of [the] people [of the United States].
Wolowsky will fill the vacant position beginning in July.

Many prisoners are being released from Guantanamo Bay as attempts are continuing to shut it down, creating a great deal of controversy regarding past practices at the prison. In May the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided [JURIST report] not to get involved, for the time being, in a case regarding whether the public should have access to video footage showing Guantanamo detainee Abu Wa'el Dhiab being force-fed. Dhiab was cleared for release by the Guantanamo Review Task Force [report, PDF] in 2009, but he remained at the prison until last year. In 2013, while still awaiting his release, he participated in a hunger strike with other inmates, which prompted guards to begin force-feeding them. In April a US government source revealed [JURIST report] that Shaker Aamer, a Saudi citizen Saudi citizen and former UK resident detained at Guantanamo, was expected to be released in June after recent calls from the UK government. In February the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied [JURIST report] Aamer and three other detainees their request for injunctive relief to stop prison authorities from force-feeding prisoners to end their hunger strike.

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