Latvia accepts Guantánamo detainee

Latvia has agreed to take in one of the U.S. prisoners now behind bars at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced.

The person the Latvian government has agreed to take in is considered “clear for release,” meaning the individual is not seen as a threat to society, the ministry announced. The Cabinet of Ministers approved the action Feb. 2.

The decision follows a January 2009 executive order signed by U.S. President Barack Obama calling for the closure of the detention facility at Guantánamo. About 800 individuals had been detained at the base during the past seven years, according to the executive order. Many of the prisoners are being transferred to facilities in the United States, but others are being sent to third countries.

The person being sent to Latvia is from Central Asia, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The government has received a written application from the person, who has “indicated readiness and interest to be housed in Latvia, as well as to integrate, learn the language and observe Latvia’s laws,” according to the press release.

Latvia’s decision is in line with those of other European Union members who have supported the Obama administration’s decision to close Guantánamo. A number of U.S. and European political leaders had criticized the U.S. prison on the eastern end of Cuba, arguing that detainees were being denied due process under the law.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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