The administration of US President Barack Obama is planning to build a prison in Yemen for Guantanamo detainees.
The United States is in talks with Yemen to build a prison near Sanaa to house Yemeni detainees held at the infamous Guantanamo Bay.
The facility would hold the 88 Yemeni ‘terrorism suspects’, many of whom have not been charged with any crime, still detained at the US military prison in Cuba.
Yemenis make up more than half of the 164 men held at Guantanamo.
The White House has refused to confirm direct talks with Yemen over the plan. But, according to The National, Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said that the US is part of a UN-led group formed in August to help Yemen establish a rehabilitation program “which could also facilitate the transfer of Yemeni detainees held at Guantanamo”.
Yemeni and US officials disagree over whether the planned facility, first reported by the Los Angeles Times this month, would include a de-radicalization program to reintegrate the men to society, or would simply be a prison.
The Yemeni foreign minister, Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, said last month the government planned to build a rehabilitation facility that would “focus on a religious and cultural dialogue and job creation”, but did not cite any US involvement.
Yemeni officials do not want to be seen as building another Guantanamo for the US, while their American counterparts are concerned that without US personnel overseeing the program, which was ruled out by US officials quoted by the LA Times, detainees who are freed may join al-Qaeda’s network in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap).
Barack Obama, the US president, promised during his first campaign for the White House in 2008 that he would close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but the he has failed to do so.
This month Obama renewed his pledge to close the controversial facility again.