More Guantanamo releases expected, followingFrench transfer

28th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, July 27 (AFP) - The Pentagon said Tuesday that it expected to release additional prisoners from a US base at Guantanamo, Cuba after the transfer of four Frenchmen to face justice in France.

WASHINGTON, July 27 (AFP) - The Pentagon said Tuesday that it expected to release additional prisoners from a US base at Guantanamo, Cuba after the transfer of four Frenchmen to face justice in France.

"During the course of the war on terrorism, the department expects that there will be other transfers or releases of detainees," the Pentagon said in a statement.

"There are ongoing processes to review the status of detainees," the statement said.

"The decision to transfer or release a detainee is based on many factors, including whether the detainee is of further intelligence value to the United States and whether he is believed to pose a threat to the United States if released," the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon transferred the four men to France on Monday.

"This decision was the result of discussions we have had with the government of France," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said of the transfer.

"It is our understanding that these French nationals will be investigated and prosecuted as appropriate by French law enforcement and judicial authorities," he said.

The Pentagon statement said that, including the four Frenchmen, 151 inmates had been released and transferred from Guantanamo Bay. Seven of these were sent to Russia, four to Saudi Arabia and one to Spain, one to Sweden and five to Great Britain.

The bulk of the prisoners were picked up in Afghanistan after the US invaded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Pentagon said that the most recent transfers left approximately 590 prisoners at Guantanamo.

Ereli said the decision to transfer the Frenchmen was "based on the assessment by our two governments of the potential threat that the French nationals may pose to the United States and France, the law enforcement or intelligence value the detainee may possess and steps French authorities will take in order to minimize any potential threat associated with this transfer."

The Pentagon said that the transfers had nothing to do with Combatant Status Review Tribunal, but was coordinated before the tribunal had been announced.

The tribunal was empanelled after a recent Supreme Court decision giving the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay the right to be represented by an attorney, which President George W. Bush and the Pentagon had denied them.

According to Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents about 50 prisoners at Guantanamo, the release shows "that they should not have been captured at all."

"The United States is now reacting to the Supreme Court decision because they probably don't really want to have lawyers go to Guantanamo and represent people and give them hearings because they don't have ... evidence against them," Ratner said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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