Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Algerians return from Guantanamo Bay prison

Watchtower at Guantanamo Bay prison (file image)
About half of those still in Guantanamo Bay are from Yemen

Two Algerians held at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba have been transferred to their native country, the US Justice Department has announced.

The departure of Hasan Zemiri and Adil Hadi al-Jazairi Bin Hamlili came on the eve of President Barack Obama's self-imposed deadline to close the facility.

However, 196 detainees still remain in the prison despite Mr Obama's pledge to close the facility by 22 January.

Plans to move detainees to an Illinois centre remain under consideration.

The transfer of the two Algerians has been seen by some as a sign that the US administration is pressing ahead with efforts to close Guantanamo Bay.

Since Mr Obama took office in 2009, more than 40 detainees have been transferred out of the prison.

But diplomatic hurdles and domestic opposition to the government's plan to house terror suspects on US soil have hindered his plans to close it down completely.

The transfer of Yemeni prisoners, who account for approximately half of the inmates at Guantanamo, has been suspended indefinitely.

A Nigerian man accused of trying blow up a US passenger jet on Christmas day has allegedly said he received training from al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen.

A Gallup poll in November 2009 found almost two-thirds of the US citizens questioned were opposed to the detention centre closing and to prisoners being taken to the US.

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