US asks Spain to take in four Guantanamo inmates

The US on Wednesday asked Spain to accept four detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, according to the Spanish foreign ministry. A poll published on Wednesday showed most Americans are opposed to the closing of the facility.


AFP - The United States on Wednesday asked Spain to accept four detainees from its "war on terror" prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said.

Following a meeting between Spanish officials and  US envoy, the minister said Washington had submitted four cases of Guantanamo inmates who could be transferred to Spain.

"We are going to study each case," Moratinos said, adding the government would "respond in a positive fashion".

The announcement followed a meeting Wednesday in Madrid between US envoy Daniel Fried and officials from the Spanish foreign, interior and justice ministries.

Speaking at a press conference in the Spanish capital, Moratinos gave no details about the prisoners.

El Pais newspaper reported earlier Wednesday the request concerned Syrian and Tunisian inmates who had asked to be transferred to Spain.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told television channel Cuatro that Madrid would be prepared to take in "a limited number" of prisoners.

The Spanish foreign ministry said: "The Spanish government has told the American government that it is willing to help with the closure of Guantanamo in any possible way."

Spanish authorities did not confirm the report in El Pais which said Madrid was ready to take in between three and five Guantanamo prisoners.

EU foreign ministers on Monday endorsed a deal with the United States on transferring Guantanamo inmates to Europe, while stressing that the decision to accept any inmate was up to individual European governments.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to shut down Guantanamo by January, and Washington has been pushing for other countries to accept inmates ready to be released with no charges against them.

Last week nine were transferred to Chad, Iraq and Bermuda, while Italy announced Monday that it would accept three during a White House meeting between Obama and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The prospect of transferring about 230 remaining inmates at Guantanamo to top security jails in the United States remains deeply unpopular in the US Congress.

Guantanamo was set up to house so-called enemy combattants by the administration of Obama's predecessor George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

But the alleged mistreatment of prisoners and the lack of legal safeguards aroused strong criticism of the facility on a US base in southern Cuba.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning