MIAMI (AP) — President Barack Obama is moving ahead with his push to close the Guantanamo Bay prison despite the uproar over the freeing of five Taliban detainees in exchange for release of a captured American soldier, an administration official said Thursday.
The government has been working to reduce a backlog of prisoners already approved after a security review for transfer to their homeland or repatriation elsewhere, the official told reporters.
The official said a "significant number" of prisoners are on their way toward release, but he declined to say precisely how many or when they would leave. The remarks were made on condition of anonymity amid fierce criticism in Congress over the transfer the five Taliban to Qatar for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release.
The U.S. holds 149 men at Guantanamo. Most have been there without charges since the detention center opened in January 2002 to hold prisoners suspected of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.
People are also reading…
Among the total are 78 who have been cleared for transfer to their homeland or repatriation to another country.
Obama came into office pledging to close the detention center within a year but was thwarted by Congress.
Last year, Congress eased restrictions on transfers. Now Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says he will introduce legislation to prohibit any transfers.