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U.S. Releases Two Algerians From Guantanamo

Nearly 200 detainees are still being held at the Guantanamo prison.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Algerian men held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been transferred to the control of the Algerian government, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

With the departure of Hasan Zemiri and Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, 196 detainees are left at the prison that U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to close.

“The Washington Post” in its January 22 edition reported that a task force led by the Justice Department has concluded that nearly 50 detainees at Guantanamo Bay should be held indefinitely without trial under the laws of war.

The findings represent the first time the Obama administration has clarified how many detainees were considered too dangerous to release but not prosecutable, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed Obama administration officials.

Obama had promised to shut the military prison by today, but has fallen far short of that goal amid political and diplomatic hurdles.

"The United States coordinated with the government of Algeria to ensure the transfers took place under appropriate security measures," the Justice Department said in a statement.

The transfer is also a sign the Obama administration is moving ahead with its effort to close the prison despite criticism by Republican lawmakers who worry that some former detainees released from the Guantanamo facility may be returning to the battlefield.

But Obama has halted indefinitely any transfers to Yemen because of concerns about Al-Qaeda operating there. The suspect in the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger jet arriving in Detroit has been linked to a Yemen-based branch of Al-Qaeda.

The administration plans to move some detainees slated to be prosecuted in U.S. military or criminal courts to a prison in Illinois, but the facility must be made more secure to accommodate the prisoners.