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White House: US prison eyed for Guantanamo inmates

world Updated: Nov 15, 2009 09:08 IST

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The Obama administration may buy a near-empty prison in rural Illinois to house detainees from Guantanamo Bay along with federal inmates, a White House official has said.

The maximum-security Thomson Correctional Facility, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) west of Obama's adopted hometown of Chicago, was one of several evaluated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and emerged as a leading option to house the detainees, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because a decision has not been made.

President Barack Obama wants detainees from the controversial military-run detention center in Cuba to be transferred to US soil so they can be prosecuted for their suspected crimes.

Thomson was built by the state in 2001 with 1,600 cells, but budget problems prevented it from fully opening, and it now houses about 200 minimum-security inmates.

It is unclear how many Guantanamo detainees--alleged terrorism suspects, many held without charges since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan--might be transferred to Illinois or when. Obama initially planned to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.