May 4, 2010 / 5:35 PM / in 9 years

U.S. sends two from Guantanamo to Spain, Bulgaria

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - The United States released two Guantanamo prisoners to Spain and Bulgaria, whittling the detention camp population to 181, the Defense Department said on Tuesday.

“The identities of the individuals are being withheld for security and privacy reasons at the request of the governments of Bulgaria and Spain,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the widely maligned Guantanamo prison camp shut down shortly after taking office in January 2009 but has so far been stymied by Congress, including some members of his own Democratic party.

The Bush administration opened the detention camp at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba in January 2002 to hold and interrogate foreign captives suspected of links to terrorism. It held 245 prisoners when Obama took office, down from a peak of about 780.

The State Department has been negotiating with other nations to repatriate or resettle those cleared for release.

“The United States is very grateful to the governments of Bulgaria and Spain for their willingness to support U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility,” the Defense Department said.

Reporting by Jane Sutton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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