[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced [press release] Monday that two more detainees have been released from the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention facility. Abd-al-Nisr Mohammed Khantumani was released to Cape Verde, while Abdul Aziz Naji was repatriated to his native Algeria. Naji had appealed to the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive], asking that it review his pending transfer and that he be allowed to remain at the Guantanamo facility. In his appeal, Naji expressed concern that he would be tortured or killed [Washington Post report] if returned to Algeria. The court rejected his request [order, PDF; JURIST report] Friday, clearing the remaining legal hurdles to his repatriation. The Obama administration had indicated it had received assurances from the Algerian government that Naji would not be mistreated after returning to the country, citing the Algerians [JURIST report] who have been returned to the country from Guantanamo Bay, without incident as proof that Naji would be safe in the country. DOD said that the orders to release both men were carefully scrutinized and that a number of factors, including security issues, were considered when deciding to release the detainees. DOD also noted the appreciation of the US government for the cooperation they have received from Algeria and Cape Verde in supporting the efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay facility. There are currently 178 detainees awaiting transfer from Guantanamo.
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]. In May, 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 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 been significantly reduced as the administration continues to transfer detainees to a growing list of countries including Germany, Italy, Spain, Maldives, Georgia, Albania, Latvia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Somaliland, Palau, Belgium, Afghanistan and Bermuda [JURIST reports].