U.S. sends home six Guantanamo prisoners

The U.S. military sent six more Guantanamo prisoners home from Guantanamo on Saturday, further winnowing the captive population as it awaits new orders from President-elect Barack Obama about the fate of the detention camp.

Four prisoners were sent home to Iraq, one to Afghanistan and one to Algeria, said a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. J.D. Gordon.

About 245 prisoners are still being held at the detention camp at the U.S. naval base in southern Cuba.

The U.S. military began sending suspected al Qaeda and Taliban operatives to the base in January 2002. Five hundred twenty-five have been released. Five died in custody -- four of suicide by hanging and one of cancer.

Gordon said the six were released following extensive reviews of evidence against them, much of which remains secret.

"Detainees have been held based on the information available at the time of capture and through multiple subsequent reviews," he said.

Obama, who takes office on Tuesday, has said he would shut down the prison camp that has become a global symbol of U.S. detainee abuse.

Members of his transition team said he would sign an executive order to do that during the first week of his presidency, though it would take some time to carry out the order and figure out what to do with the remaining prisoners.

[Source: Reuters, Guantanamo Bay, US Naval base, Cub, 17Jan09]

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