Royce concerned with transfer of Guantanamo detainees to Uruguay

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, expressed his concern to Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday about the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay military prison late last year.

Royce reminded Kerry in a letter of the risks posed by the prisoners.

“I am deeply concerned by the lack of restraints on and the threatening activities of these former Guantanamo detainees in Uruguay,” Royce said after releasing details of the letter. “The committee will continue its investigation of the State Department’s role in facilitating this troubling detainee transfer.”

The six detainees were released to Uruguay in December. 

“These Syrians, Tunisians and Palestinians, originally detained in 2002, are all accused of being hardened al-Qaeda fighters, having been involved in forging documents, trained as suicide bombers and engaged in fighting at Tora Bora,” Royce’s letter states. “After a first-hand assessment by committee staff, this transfer appears to be inconsistent with U.S. law, as Uruguay has not taken steps to mitigate the risk that these detainees pose to the United States, including the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo.”

The Obama administration has defended the release of the detainees.

“I hope that the new Uruguayan government will treat these men as the threat I believe they are, but it surely won’t unless the administration shows greater concern over the risk they pose to U.S. personnel,” Royce concluded.