WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is still determined to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, despite criticism over his civilian prosecution of terror suspects, the White House said on Thursday.
“The president remains committed to closing Guantanamo Bay to ensure that it is no longer the recruiting poster that it is right now for al Qaeda,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a news briefing.
A civilian jury on Wednesday acquitted a man once held at Guantanamo of all but one charge related to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani still faces a minimum sentence of 20 years for conspiring in the attacks in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
Critics say the verdict raised questions over the administration’s ability to successfully prosecute remaining Guantanamo Bay terrorism suspects, and what that meant for the facility’s eventual closure.
Obama has already failed to meet an election campaign pledge to shut it down in the first year of his presidency and transfer its inmates to prisons in the United States.
Republicans favor military trials for suspects.
Gibbs said the future of these trials has yet to be determined, but the outcome of the prosecution of Ghailani would be among the factors taken into consideration.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Alister Bull, editing by Stacey Joyce