US shuts down office for Guantanamo closure

US shuts down office for Guantanamo closure

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
US shuts down office for Guantanamo closure

Hooded demonstrators take part in a rally to call for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center in front of the US Supreme Court. AFP photo

The State Department has shut down the office of its special envoy for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, a U.S. official said yesterday, in a sign of the fading hopes of shuttering the jail.

Daniel Fried, the special envoy in charge of the dossier, will now move to coordinate the State Department’s sanctions policy, including for Iran and Syria, and his “former responsibilities will be ‘assumed’ by the office of the department’s legal adviser,” The New York Times reported, citing an internal personnel memo.

A U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said that the story, which specified that Fried would not be replaced, was “accurate.” Fried, a veteran diplomat and former ambassador to Poland, was appointed special envoy in May 2009, only months after U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the notorious jail at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to close.

In a declaration in late 2009, Fried said his job was to engage in “diplomatic dialogue with foreign governments concerning the repatriation and/or resettlement of individuals” held at Guantanamo.

Fried said in his declaration that his main job was to find places for those held in the jail who had been cleared for repatriation or resettlement to third countries. He said he had been guided by U.S. policy that it would not repatriate people to countries where they were likely to face torture.

On his first day in office in January 2009, Obama signed an executive order the prison camp should close, in a bid to fulfill one of his campaign promises. But his plan was thwarted when some countries were reluctant to accept the return of their nationals and when U.S. lawmakers banned the military from transferring prisoners to the United States for trial or sending them abroad.