Harmless, hardened alike housed at Guantanam



Shortly after taking office, US President Barack Obama ordered that the Cuba-based facility be closed by January 2010, but some of the prisoners, who hail from 30 countries, cannot be freed until third nations are found to take them in.
According to recent Pentagon figures, the controversial facility houses about 100 Yemenis, 25 Afghans, about 20 Algerians, 17 Chinese nationals of the Uighur minority ethnic group and about a dozen Saudis. The rest mainly come from different places in Central Asia and the Middle East.



Harmless, hardened alike housed at Guantanam
The Obama administration in February began reviewing each detainee's files, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in February said there are between 50 and 100 detainees who are neither releasable nor able to be prosecuted.
Among the high value inmates are five men accused of having had a hand in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the plot that killed some 3,000 people in the United States.
Another high-value inmate, Ali Zubaydah, is alleged to be an influential member of Al-Qaeda, a Saudi-born Palestinian whose real name is Zayn Al Abidin Muhammad Husayn.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, a Tanzanian accused in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Tuesday became the first former detainee at Guantanamo to be arraigned in a civilian court in the United States.
He pled not guilty to charges arising out of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya after having been transfered to the United States from the prison in southern Cuba.
According to the chief military prosecutor, John Murphy, there are 65 detainees eligible to appear before special military tribunals in Guantanamo, which are due to be revived but with certain important changes.
Under the reviews completed by the Obama administration to date there are about 50 other detainees who have been deemed releasable.
In June 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo detainees have the right to mount a legal challenge to their detention, but so far just three judges have held hearings. The incarcerations of about 10 or so detainees have been deemed illegal.
Meanwhile, 17 Chinese Uighurs who were briefly declared "enemy combatants" by the Bush administration have been cleared by the Pentagon and US federal courts later upheld their innocence.
Still, they remain at the detention facility seven years after their arrival, after the US Defense and State Departments failed to find third countries to send them to. Another small group of Uighurs was earlier resettled in Albania.
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Wednesday, June 10th 2009
AFP
           


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