Illinois prison selected for Guantanamo detainees

Illinois prison selected for Guantanamo detaineesWashington, Dec 16 - The US government plans to send an unspecified number of Guantanamo detainees to a prison in Illinois as part of the plan to shutter the controversial facility for holding terrorist suspects, the White House said Tuesday.

President Barack Obama has ordered the federal government to buy a state prison in Illinois that would house a "limited number" of detainees. There are currently 215 prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay prison on a US naval installation in Cuba.

Taking control of the Thomson Correctional Centre, which lies about 240 km west of Chicago, is a key step towards closing the prison, a goal Obama set days after taking office in January.

Senior administration officials told reporters that detainees who have been identified as transferable to other countries will remain at Guantanamo until host nations can be found. Defence Secretary Robert Gates earlier this month said there are 116 in that category.

Detainees who face trial in federal courts will be locked up in those jurisdictions, while military commissions for trying suspects will be moved to Thomson along with those charged. Other prisoners who cannot be tried or released to other countries will end up at Thomson as well, a senior administration official said.

The White House disclosed the decision in a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made public on Tuesday. Quinn, along with Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, urged the federal government to choose the site, arguing it would create thousands of jobs in a part of the state devastated by the downtrodden economy. (dpa)