Georgia to take Gitmo detainees – report

UNITED STATES, GUANTANAMO NAVAL BASE : US Marines manning an observation tower watch as a detainee is handled by Army soldiers at Camp X-Ray (AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)
Georgia may accept detainees from Guantanamo Bay before the notorious prison is closed, media speculate. Officials in Tbilisi have yet to either confirm or deny the reports.

The news that Georgia is willing to accept terrorist suspects held at the US military base in Cuba came on Friday through the Washington Post. The newspaper reports on the future of the detainees, who have to be transferred elsewhere before Gitmo is closed down. Several EU countries volunteered to take the prisoners, while several more made unofficial commitments.

Georgia is named as one of the countries willing to help the US. “A senior Georgian official joked in an interview that his country, which just marked the first anniversary of a war with Russia, would accept every Guantanamo detainee if the deal came with the establishment of a U.S. military base in Georgia,” WP says.

Georgia’s possible acceptance of the detainees was covered by the Georgian private TV channel Rustavi-2. Meanwhile Georgian officials refrain from commenting on the issue.

“I can’t say anything concrete yet. We’ve expressed our willingness to consider a request by the USA. If we reach an agreement, we’ll review every candidature. A terrorist is one thing, while a man who is brainwashed is another,” Georgian Deputy Prime Minister Temuri Yakobashvili told Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said they had no information on such an agreement and could not comment on media speculation.

Guantanamo Bay was opened in 2002 is used to detain suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan and Iraq without trial. Detainees include citizens of Algeria, China, Libya, Syria, Tunis, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Barack Obama has ordered the controversial base to be closed by 2010. Britain, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain are willing to inherit the detainees when they are released.