The Guantanamo Bay detention camp will close by next January, Vice-President Joe Biden said on Thursday, adding that decisions on all inmates were likely “well before January.”
In an interview with the BBC, he insisted Washington was on course to fulfil the closure pledge made by US President Barack Obama immediately after his inauguration in January.
“We are going through every single detainee’s records... to make a judgement about whether or not they should be tried [or] ... released and if so, what country might take them if we can’t get them back to the country of origin because they’re going to be tortured or mistreated,” he said.
Speaking during a trip to eastern Europe taking in Georgia and Ukraine, he added: “We expect before January -- well before January -- we will have a decision on each and every individual being held.”
Biden was responding to a question about the difficulties facing the US administration to keep to Obama’s promise in January to shut the controversial prison camp on Cuba within a year.
Since the president signed the executive order on January 22, only 11 detainees have been freed and one has been transferred to the United States to face trial in a civilian court.
Most of the remaining 229 “war on terror” prisoners at the US naval base in southern Cuba have been held for more than seven years without charge or trial.
On Monday, senior administration officials said a task force reviewing detention policy would need another six months to complete a report on its efforts to close Guantanamo.