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Officials Set Up Review Procedure for Guantanamo Detainees

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2004 – Nearly 600 enemy combatants being held at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will now have an annual opportunity to petition for their release.

Defense officials have put into place an administrative review process to determine whether detainees should continue to be held, a senior defense official said at the Pentagon May 18.

The official explained the new procedures apply only to combatants detained in the Afghan theater and currently held at Guantanamo.

They provide for an annual review for each detainee, in which the detainee will "have an opportunity to appear before a review board and present his case for release, that he does not continue to pose a threat to the United States," the official said.

Each detainee will present his case before a panel of three military officers, and an officer will be appointed to assist in preparing his case. He also will have access to translator support as needed. Detainees' families and home countries will be invited to submit information to prove the detainee's position.

Other government agencies, including the State, Justice and Homeland Security departments and the Central Intelligence Agency, are able to submit information to the panel as well, the official explained.

The review board will make recommendations to a senior Defense Department civilian who will then decide whether to release the detainee, continue to hold him, or transfer him to his home country for continued detention there.

The briefing official said it's important to note the United States government is not legally bound to provide these reviews.

"As a matter of policy, the department has adopted these procedures so as not to keep any detainee for whom the war is over, who is no longer a threat to the United States," he said.

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