US defense officials deny imminent Abu Ghraib closure Bernard Hibbitts at 4:31 PM ET
[JURIST] US Defense Department [official website] officials said Thursday afternoon that reports originating from earlier statements [JURIST report] by a military spokesman in Iraq that the US intended to close Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison [JURIST news archive] within three months before handing the facility back to the Iraqi government were "premature".
Officials told DOD's American Forces Press Service in a story reported on the main DOD website that, according to AFPS, "News reports that the U.S. military intends to close Abu Ghraib within the next few months and to transfer its prisoners to other jails are inaccurate." The unnamed officials said that although the US has always intended to transfer its Iraq detention facilities to Iraqis, there is no set timetable for doing so and the timing of a future handover will depend on both the readiness of Iraqi security forces to take them over and the state of infrastructure improvements. AFPS has more.
7:53 AM ET 03/10/06 - Speaking after a US Senate committee in Washington Thursday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace left the timetable for a transfer of prisoners from Abu Ghraib open, indicating [New York Times report] that it would be "several more months" before construction work is completed at alternative US facilities:
We do have plans to and are in the process of building other facilities to move the detainees under US control out of Abu Ghraib. The facility then will be owned and operated by the Iraqi government and that government will decide when it closes - if it closes.
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