U.S. moves 6 Gitmo detainees, rejects hearing postponements
Sunday, January 18, 2009
GUANTANAMO NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- The U.S. Department of Defense announced Saturday that it transferred six detainees out of Guantanamo, leaving about 245 at the offshore prison as president-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office.
Four detainees were sent to Iraq, one to Algeria and one to Afghanistan after a series of reviews, the Defense Department said in a statement.
Military judges rejected last-minute requests to postpone pretrial hearings scheduled to begin Monday for five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks and a Canadian accused of killing an American soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan.
Defense lawyers have sought to halt the cases -- or at least delay them pending a review by the Obama administration.
And the chief prosecutor, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said the prosecution was seeking a brief delay for "efficiency" and legal reasons.
"We're still in business. We're going to court Monday," Morris told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base on Saturday as he and other lawyers prepared to fly to Guantanamo.
Morris said he has to be prepared to go forward because he does not know when Obama will halt the trials and order the closure of the prison.
The Pentagon said the transfer of the six prisoners "is a demonstration of the United States' desire not to hold detainees any longer than necessary."
Since 2002, more than 525 detainees have departed Guantanamo.