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Iran Press TV

Pentagon planning big Guantanamo prisoner transfer

Iran Press TV

Fri Dec 18, 2015 9:53AM

The Pentagon chief has approved the biggest transfer of inmates from the notorious US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says a congressional official.

US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has informed Congress on the possibility of transferring 17 Gitmo prisoners to other countries, a congressional aide told Fox News on Thursday.

The Pentagon is seeking to reduce the detainee population to 'as low as they can get,' even if it involves 'a good deal of risk,' the official noted.

The transfer will be the largest of its kind since 2007 and will reduce the number of the prisoners at the camp to 90.

It is not yet clear which prisoners are shortlisted for the transfer and where they will be transported to. The lawmakers were slated to be briefed on the issue Friday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest commented on the matter during his Thursday briefing, saying there are currently 117 prisoners at the camp, among whom 48 have been cleared for potential transfer.

"The US government is working diligently to find countries who will work effectively with our national security professionals to put in place the appropriate security precautions to allow those individuals to be transferred," Earnest said.

In November, the Defense Department said they had released five Yemeni detainees, sending them to the United Arab Emirates.

The prisoners were accepted for resettlement in the Persian Gulf nation after US authorities determined they no longer posed a threat.

US President Barack Obama had promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in his election campaign in 2008, citing its damage to the US reputation abroad. However, later on, the president backed away on his pledge due to stiff opposition from Congress.

According to the Pentagon, complete closure of Gitmo will require an estimated cost of $600 million.

More than half of the estimated cost, $350 million, is needed to build a new detention facility in the US, something that Congress and state officials have vehemently opposed. The annual cost of running the facility in Guantanamo is about $400 million.

As many as 775 detainees are said to have been brought to the Guantanamo Bay prison, which was set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

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