An Italian court on Monday convicted former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Mohamed Ben Riadh Nasri [NYT materials] on terror charges and sentenced the Tunisian man to six years in prison. Prosecutors accused Nasri of working for a terror group [AP report] associated with al Qaeda while living in Milan in the 1990s. The US transferred Nasri [JURIST report], who was arrested in Afghanistan, from Guantanamo Bay to Italy in 2009 along with Abdel Ben Mabrouk [NYT materials] as the part of the government's plan to shut down the detention center. Nasri's lawyer said he plans to appeal the conviction.
The continued operation of Guantanamo Bay remains controversial. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized US President Barack Obama [JURIST report] for failing to shut down the facility. Obama's stated desire to close Guantanamo has faced heavy opposition in Congress. In early January, Obama signed a bill barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees [JURIST report] to the US for trial. The legislation authorized funding for defense interests abroad, military construction and national security-related energy programs and barred the use of funds to transfer detainees into the US and limited funds available for transfers to foreign countries. The administration plans to seek the repeal of these restrictions and opposes the extension or expansion of them in the future. 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]. There are currently 178 detainees awaiting transfer from Guantanamo.