Biden Seeks 'Ultimately Closing' Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, 10 Inmates Proposed for Transfer

President Joe Biden's administration announced on Monday that it still wants to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. So far, it has recommended 10 inmates for transfer, roughly a quarter of the remaining 39 prisoners left in the facility.

Senior U.S. administration officials confirmed the news in a press call that Abdullatif Nasser had been transferred to his home country of Morocco after having been detained 19 years without charge at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

A leaked Pentagon memo from October 2008 alleged that he had been "in search of the perfect Islamic society" and traveled to Sudan and Afghanistan, where he was said to have been trained by Al-Qaeda as an explosives expert and fought on behalf of the group. He was reportedly captured in December 2001 near the Afghan-Pakistani border, three months after the U.S.-led intervention in the wake of 9/11.

The controversy around the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has led to national and international outcries over the accuracy of the intelligence used to imprison inmates and the interrogation methods used to extract information from them.

Former President Barack Obama announced a plan to close the camp in 2016, the final years of his presidency, but Donald Trump reversed the measure, vowing to keep it open.

Biden, who served as vice president under Obama, has since promised to revamp efforts to shutter the prison. One of the senior administration officials on Monday's call reiterated that intention in the wake of Nasser's "responsible transfer."

"The Biden administration remains dedicated to a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population, and ultimately closing of their Guantanamo facility," the official said.

A second senior administration official then gave a breakdown of the remaining inmates.

"Following this transfer today there are 39 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, 10 are eligible for transfer, 17 are eligible for periodic review boards, 10 are involved in the military commission process, and two detainees have been convicted," the second official said.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price also discussed the administration's approach in a statement commending Morocco's decision to accept Nasser and encouraging other states to do the same.

"The Administration is dedicated to following a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population of the Guantanamo facility while also safeguarding the security of the United States and its allies," Price said.

Cuba remains officially opposed to the U.S. military presence in Guantanamo Bay, a territory leased to Washington in 1903 by Havana at a time when the island was under U.S. control after the Spanish-American War. A series of pro-U.S. Cuban administrations continued the agreement until its final successor, Fulgencio Batista, was ultimately overthrown by Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries.

The Cuban Communist Party founded by Castro remains in power today, and is subject to a strict decades-long U.S. embargo. Obama sought to roll back this measure, but this too was reversed by Trump, who in January declared Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism.

Biden has continued the embargo and left the economic sanctions in place, but has offered verbal support for historic protests that have rocked the island in response to what has been described as a lack of COVID-19 vaccines and other essential goods.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has acknowledged some shortcomings in his country's struggle to shore up an economy deeply rattled by the pandemic and instituted some reforms in hopes of appeasing the demonstrations. At the same time, he's laid most of the blame on the ongoing U.S. trade restrictions and the damage they've caused to the island nation's economy.

Guantanamo, Bay, detention, facility, US, military, Cuba
The main gate at the prison in Guantanamo at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base on October 16, 2018, in Guantanamo Base, Cuba. President Joe Biden has vowed to reinstate former President Barack Obama's efforts to close the controversial facility. SYLVIE LANTEAUME/AFP/Getty Images

While the U.S. has maintained a military presence at Guantanamo Bay since 1903, making it the oldest overseas U.S. base, the detention center was opened in 2002 to hold suspects captured throughout the sprawling "War on Terror."

The facility has long been mired in legal battles involving inmates seeking to prove their innocence in the face of secret indictments, and the site recently garnered renewed attention with the release of the Netflix film "The Mauritanian" in February of this year. The movie follows the story of Mauritanian national Mohamedou Ould Slahi who was held in Guantanamo Bay from 2002, until he was ordered to be released by a judge in 2010 and then finally let out in 2016.

Slahi joined six other former inmates to pen an open letter to Biden days after Inauguration Day, appealing to the president to close the prison camp.

This is a developing news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.