US military closes prison camp at Guantanamo Bay

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US military closes prison camp at Guantanamo Bay

WASHINGTON: (APP) The US military has closed a maximum-security detention center at Guantanamo Bay, an official said Thursday, as the controversial prison's population continues to dwindle.

Guantanamo's Camp 5 lockup, built in 2004 at a cost of $17 million, closed August 19 and will be converted into a medical center with a psychiatric wing for detainees, facility spokesman Navy Captain John Filostrat told AFP.

Only a "handful" of detainees had remained at Camp 5 after 15 inmates were transferred to the United Arab Emirates last month, the biggest single release under President Barack Obama.

The few former Camp 5 inmates are now housed in an adjacent medium-security jail, Camp 6, where they have access to communal areas and computers through which they can Skype family members, Filostrat said.

Twenty of the 40 or so detainees now at Camp 6 have been cleared for transfer and are optimistic they may be released before Obama leaves office in January.

"It's fair to say there's a sense of anticipation, maybe hope even," Filostrat said.

Still, a small number of detainees continue to protest their indefinite detention by hunger striking.

Many have been locked up for more than a decade without any formal charges being brought, with only limited access to lawyers and amid allegations of detainee abuse.

The riskiest remaining detainees, including the five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, are incarcerated at another, secret prison camp called Camp 7 located elsewhere on the base.