U.S. Republicans want moratorium on release of most Guantanamo prisoners

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 13, 2015 2:15 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several U.S. Republican senators on Tuesday proposed legislation that would place a moratorium on the release of most of the prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, saying they pose too much danger to the United States and its allies.

"It's clear that we need a time out so that we do not reconfront the terrorists that we had captured and are currently in Guantanamo," said Senator Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire.

She said the legislation would put a two-year moratorium on the transfer of "medium- and high-risk detainees" from the facility - which she said were the overwhelming majority of the 127 prisoners there. The bill would also prohibit transfer of any prisoners from Guantanamo to Yemen for two years.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain from Arizona said that his committee would take up the legislation. "We know for a fact that roughly 30 percent of those who have been released have re-entered the fight," he said, speaking at a news conference with Ayotte.

Two weeks ago five men were flown from Guantanamo to Kazakhstan for resettlement, the latest in a series of prisoner transfers aimed at closing the facility located at the U.S. naval base in Cuba.

The prison was opened in January 2002 to house suspected militants and still holds 127 detainees, despite President Barack Obama's pledge to close the facility. Obama continues to face obstacles posed by Congress in his goal of emptying the prison before he leaves office, not least of which is a ban on transfer of prisoners to the U.S. mainland.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bernard Orr)