State Department lawyer says torture concerns complicate Guantanamo closure

[JURIST] John Bellinger [official profile], the top legal adviser for the US State Department [official website], said Monday that the US would like to close its detention camp at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], but must first make sure that detainees will not pose a security risk or face torture when returned to their native countries. Bellinger added that several countries have blocked the return of their nationals, and the US has not been assured by other countries that transferred detainees will not face human rights violations after they leave US custody. So far the US has released some 310 detainees to other governments, including Albania, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden and Uganda. Most recently, 14 Saudi Arabian detainees [JURIST report] were transferred into Saudi custody Saturday.

Last week, European Union leaders urged President Bush to close Guantanamo during a Vienna summit [JURIST report], echoing previous calls to close the prison. Meanwhile, the US has reportedly begun talks with the UK on returning eight UK residents [JURIST report] still held at Guantanamo, the first time the UK has sought the release of non-UK citizens. AP has more.



 

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