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Guantanamo Bay closure options weighed up by Obama

The White House is considering a "wide array" of options for closing Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba.

White House weighing up Guantanamo Bay closure options Credit: Reuters

The best route for closing the prison would be winning congressional approval to do so, spokesman Josh Earnest said.

But President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly pledged to close the prison, has faced opposition from congressional Republicans who passed laws blocking any move to transfer Guantanamo inmates to prisons in the United States.

Asked if Obama would consider taking executive action to close the prison if Congress blocks him, Mr Earnest said: "The president and his team are always considering a wide array of options.

"But the fact is the best way for us to do this is for members of Congress of both parties to work effectively with the administration".

The White House said last month that it would soon be sending a plan to Congress to close the prison.

White House finalising plan to close Guantanamo Bay prison

The White House has confirmed that it is in the final stages of drafting a plan to close the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

White House is in the final stages of plans to close the prison. Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong

The announcement was made by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, who confirmed that plans to "safely and responsibly close the prison at Guantanamo Bay" were currently being drafted.

Mr Earnest said closing Guantanamo Bay prison remains a priority and it is a waste to spend more than $100 million per year on a prison holding only 116 detainees. He said terrorists also use Guantanamo Bay as a recruiting tool.

President Obama had promised to close the prison since his first day in office, but has suffered setbacks in Congress.

Earnest said the president has decided to veto a defence spending bill now being negotiated if it includes provisions that would make it harder to close the prison.

Former Guantanamo prisoner released while on appeal

Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to killing a US soldier Credit: Reuters

A Canadian man who was once the youngest prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay is to be released today on bail while he appeals his murder conviction.

Omar Khadr will be released from an Alberta prison where he was transferred to in 2012 from the notorious Guantanamo Bay after being convicted by a US military tribunal.

Khadr was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15 and pleaded guilty to killing a US soldier.

A Canadian judge granted Khadr bail, denying an appeal by the federal government to keep him in custody claiming his release would harm the country's relationship with the United States.

Bail conditions imposed by an Alberta court include that Khadr, 28, wears an electronic monitoring device, lives with his lawyer in Edmonton, observes a nightly curfew, and has only monitored contact with his family.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that Canada breached Khadr's rights by sending intelligence agents to interrogate him at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in both 2003 and 2004, and by sharing the results with the United States.

Khadr was taken to Afghanistan by his father, a senior al Qaeda member, who apprenticed the boy to a group of bomb makers who opened fire when US troops went to their compound.

A firefight followed, during which Khadr was blinded in one eye and shot twice in the back, and he was captured.


Amnesty calls for release of UK Guantanamo detainee

Shaker Aamer has been held at Guantanamo Bay since February 14th 2002. Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong

Amnesty International has called for the last UK resident still detained in Guantanamo Bay to be given a date for his safe return.

Shaker Aamer has been held by the US government for the last 13 years despite never being charged and being cleared for release in 2007.

Around 18,000 people have signed a petition organised by the international human rights organisation which calls for Mr Aamer to be set free without delay if he is not charged and brought to a fair trial.

Last Friday David Cameron raised the case with President Barack Obama, who gave a public commitment to prioritise the matter, Amnesty said.

Amnesty Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: "Those words must be followed by actions. No more excuses, no more delays - Mr Aamer should be given a date for a safe return to his family."

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