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Obama to resume transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo, WSJ reports

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Washington, May 22 (EFE).- The U.S. government will resume the transfer of prisoners suspected of committing terrorist acts from the base at Guantanamo, Cuba, as a step leading toward closing the prison, government officials told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

U.S. President Barack Obama, who is scheduled to give a speech on counterterrorism efforts on Thursday, will reaffirm in that address his commitment to close the prison, one of his campaign promises that has remained unfulfilled since 2008.

The daily said that Obama will not provide any details about how the transfer of prisoners might be accelerated, but the officials said that the president in the coming weeks will lift the prevailing prohibition on sending the detainees to Yemen.

The Guantanamo prison was opened in January 2002 by then-President George W. Bush within the context of Washington's "global war on terror" after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and it came to house almost 800 suspected terrorists.

"I continue to believe that we've got to close Guantanamo," Obama said at an April 30 news conference. "I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe. It is expensive. It is inefficient. It hurts us in terms of our international standing. It lessens cooperation with our allies on counter-terrorism efforts. It is a recruitment tool for extremists. It needs to be closed."

A total of 86 of the 166 prisoners currently housed in the prison have gotten the green light to be released, but the opposition of Congress, the lack of bilateral accords governing their transfer and a moratorium on the repatriation of Yemeni prisoners to their country have blocked the process.

The president had been scheduled to give the speech at the beginning of May, but he postponed it amid concerns over the hunger strike launched by about 100 of the Guantanamo prisoners and the controversy sparked by the Justice Department subpoena of telephone records of Associated Press journalists to try and find out who was responsible for a national security leak.

The 100 or so prisoners began their hunger strike three months ago to protest their treatment at Guantanamo, to vent their frustration over their indefinite detention and especially to express their outrage over the alleged mishandling by prison personnel of the Koran, the sacred text of Muslims.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130522/obama-resume-transfer-prisoners-guantanamo-wsj-reports