U.S. News

Government sends three Guantanamo detainees to Slovakia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been sent to Slovakia, the U.S. Justice Department said on Monday, the latest transfers as the Obama administration tries to close the facility.

The detainees, whom the Justice Department declined to identify at the request the Slovakian government, arrived there on Sunday. There are still 193 detainees at the Guantanamo prison.

The three individuals were being placed in a camp for asylum seekers in the eastern part of Slovakia, Humenne, which is run by the interior ministry, according to Slovak police.

The Slovak foreign ministry said last week that it would take the three detainees under an EU-U.S. agreement aimed at helping President Barack Obama close the controversial prison. His January 22 deadline to shutter it passed unmet.

But a task force headed by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrapped up its work last week, recommending that about 50 Guantanamo prisoners face indefinite detention and another 35 or so should be prosecuted in criminal or military courts, an administration official has said.

The remaining 110 or so detainees are slated to be released or transferred abroad, though the administration official said those circumstances could change if new evidence is found.

A big challenge to closing the prison is the 91 Yemeni detainees there and while some have been cleared to go home, Obama cannot release them because militant al Qaeda cells are active in Yemen and U.S. officials are concerned those released could join the group.

The Obama administration suspended transfers to Yemen earlier this month because of the deteriorating security situation there and after a Nigerian man was charged with trying to blow up a U.S. airliner with a bomb he told investigators he received from al Qaeda militants in Yemen.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington and Martin Santa in Bratislava; Editing by Vicki Allen and Cynthia Osterman