The Pentagon has said it would release, in compliance with a federal court ruling, the identities of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of prisoners in the war on terror are being held.
"The Department of Defence will comply with the judge’s ruling in this matter," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Commander Joe Carpenter told AFP on Saturday. The departments of defence and justice "are coordinating to release unredacted versions of the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, which contain the names of detainees, by 3 March", Carpenter said.
The US District Court said on Wednesday that the Pentagon had advised the court it would not appeal a 25 January order to release uncensored transcripts and related documents about the US military base in Cuba.
The United States has been holding nearly 500 men and several teenagers as "enemy combatants" in a remote corner of the US naval base, some for as long as four years, without charge.
Court order — US federal judge Jed Rakoff last month had ordered the government to release the identities of hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo, rejecting arguments that this might put their families in danger.
Rakoff’s ruling was made in favour of a lawsuit brought by the Associated Press which sought access to uncensored transcripts related to more than 550 military hearings held to determine whether detainees were properly classified as enemy combatants. The judge had given the Pentagon a deadline of 23 February to appeal the portion of the ruling requiring the uncensored documents.
The Department of Defence had released the transcripts last year but blacked out the detainees’ names and nationalities.
The Pentagon argued that detainees’ names should be kept secret to protect their privacy and that releasing the identities could subject their families to retaliation by terrorist groups. Rakoff ruled that the government had "not remotely met its burden showing that either the detainees or their families, friends or associates have a protectable privacy interest".