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January 5, 2010
6:35 PM

CONTACT: Human Rights First

Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C – 301/906-4460

Guantanamo Closure Remains Key to National Security

WASHINGTON - January 5 -  Following today's White House announcement that detainee transfers from the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Yemen are temporarily on hold, Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino issued the following statement:

"We welcome President Obama's continued commitment to closing Guantanamo despite the decision to temporarily suspend transfers to Yemen.  Every day that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay remains open provides grist for terrorist recruitment and undermines cooperation with U.S. allies in counterterrorism efforts.  Closing Guantanamo is a national security priority."

The Obama administration should press ahead in identifying third countries willing to accept the Yemeni detainees cleared for release and, at the same time continue to work closely with Yemeni officials to address current security concerns and to minimize potential risk before reinstating transfers there. With all transfers the administration can and should take steps to mitigate risk by focusing on expanding risk assessment efforts, monitoring, and other security programs, including allotting of sufficient resources to successfully reintegrate former detainees.

"The detention facility at Guantanamo is a powerful recruiting tool used by terrorists around the world to mobilize others to join their cause. The events of the past two weeks underscore the need to starve al Qaeda of this propaganda tool and should only strengthen the Obama Administration's resolve to close this facility immediately.

"If we allow terrorists to take our eye off of the ball in closing Guantanamo, they win. We should not be diverted from this national security imperative."

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.


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