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Homeland Security

20 December 2004

Navy Secretary Says Another Guantanamo Detainee Will Be Released

Defense Department Report, December 20: Update on Detainee Reviews

Navy Secretary Gordon England says a second detainee held as an enemy combatant has been identified for release from the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

During a December 20 news briefing at the Pentagon, England said the first detainee who was identified through the Combatant Status Review Tribunal for release left in September.

England would not identify the nationality of the newest person to be freed, but said the State Department has been notified to make arrangements for him to return home.

So far, 507 tribunals have been held for detainees; 292 of the 507 detainees involved have chosen to participate.

In briefings earlier in 2004, England had said the tribunal process would be completed by the end of 2004, but now he says there are still about 50 cases to be heard. "We hope to have them wrapped up next month," he said.

England is the civilian Defense Department official designated to oversee the Administrative Review Board, which annually reviews each enemy combatant to determine if he continues to pose a threat to the United States or its allies. The board then determines if a detainee is to be released, transferred, or retained at Guantanamo.

"We don't want to release someone who will return to the battlefield to fight Americans and our allies," England said; 12 previously released detainees have returned to fight anew. Deciding who might pose a future risk is a dilemma, he said: "We are trying to strike the right balance in terms of their [detainees'] rights and their freedoms."

A detainee will not be released as long as he has intelligence value needed for the prosecution of the global war against terrorism.

The board reviewed its first four cases in December, but the recommendations have not yet been presented to England for his final decision. He said he expects to receive the board results in January 2005.

For a while the tribunals and review boards will be running simultaneously, England said, until the tribunal process wraps up next month.

He also said he expects the review boards to continue throughout 2005.

During their incarceration, England said, the detainees may participate in rehabilitation programs, such as assistance in learning to read and write.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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