HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — The White House is in the “final stages” of drafting a new plan to present to Congress that would close “safely and responsibly” the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said spokesman Josh Earnest.
“It’s a tough job, but we’ve made many important advances,” Earnest said.
“It is a priority of the president. He believes it to be part of our clear national security interests to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay,” he said.
The initiative of President Barack Obama to close the prison was blocked on several occasions by members of Congress.
After taking office in January 2009, Obama ordered the closure of the prison where there were detained some 800 suspected terrorists, nearly all without charges, captured abroad and held by the United States since 2002.
The process was hampered by the lack of places to send the prisoners, along with the actions of Congress to block the transfer of suspects to US civilian courts or transfer them to prisons in US territory.
Since then, hundreds have been released and handed over to their governments or third countries. As of June, 116 men were in the detention center.
The controversial naval base in Guantanamo Bay, on the eastern tip of Cuba, is under US control under a 1903 lease agreement that Cuba hasn’t recognized since 1959.
Havana demands the return of the territory, but Washington refuses to do so pointing to the “perpetual” lease.