Only 20 Gitmo detainees will be tried for war crimes

Of 166 held at the camp, fewer have viable charges to face war crimes tribunal than originally planned

Published June 11, 2013 3:29PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)
(Reuters/Shane T. McCoy)

Of 166 detainees currently held at Guantanamo, it is well-known that 80 have already been cleared for release but remain imprisoned -- held in a torturous state of exception. 103 detainees have joined a hunger strike that began in February, with over 40 now being force-fed. Now it has come to light that only around 20 Gitmo detainees have viable charges levied against them to face a war crimes tribunal.

As Reuters reported: 

Far fewer prisoners will be tried in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals than the Obama administration originally planned because a recent court ruling cast doubts on the viability of some charges, the chief prosecutor for the tribunals said.

The president's Guantanamo Review Task Force had said 36 detainees could be prosecuted, but the tribunal's chief prosecutor put the figure at 20 at most.

The number set by the task force after a review completed in 2010 was "ambitious" in light of a recent court ruling, said Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor for the tribunals.

He said captives who would be prosecuted by the Guantanamo tribunals included the seven whose trials are finished and the six facing pretrial hearings this week and next.

The drastic scaling back of the Guantanamo prosecutions comes after a U.S. appeals court in Washington threw out the conviction of Osama bin Laden's former driver, Salim Hamdan, who was found guilty in 2008 of providing material support for terrorism.

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Gitmo Guantanamo Bay Guantanamo Hunger Strike Material Support Terrorism War Crimes War Crimes Tribunal