GITMO: Where does it stand?


American flag
An American flag flies over the entrance to Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Closing down Guantanamo Bay was one of U.S. President Barack Obama’s campaign pledges in 2008. Eight years later, the facility remains open. What happens to it – and the 60 detainees who remain – could be determined by his successor.

CCTV’s Yasmeen Alamiri reports. 

At the Guantanamo Bay detention center, prisoners know their collective fate could hinge on the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

Captain John Filostrat, a U.S. Navy Spokesman at Guantanamo Bay said the detainees do have access to news from the outside.

“It’s probably safe to say that they are watching the election and keeping a close watch as many others around the world,” Filostrat said.

detainees in prayer

Detainees line up for evening prayer at Camp 6. Detainees have the choice to pray as a group or alone in their cells for their five daily prayers.

Could their time in Guantanamo be nearing an end? U.S. president Barack Obama pledged to close Guantanamo, and didn’t. Will Obama’s successor finally shut the place down?

Donald Trump wants to fill the place up again. Hillary Clinton wants to empty it.


Since 2002, nearly 800 accused terrorists have been detained at GTMO. Only 60 remain. None might be left if it weren’t for opposition in the U.S. Congress.

Since 2002, nearly 800 accused terrorists have been detained at GTMO. Only 60 remain. None might be left if it weren’t for opposition in the U.S. Congress. Graphic by Joshua Barlow

Beatings, sleep deprivation and sexual assault were just some of the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques that made Guantanamo notorious in its early years. Though a spokesperson for the U.S. Defense Department says prisoners have been treated “humanely.”

Even in his last year as president, Obama has continued press for the detention center’s closure.

“I don’t want to pass this problem on to the next President, whoever it is. And if, as a nation, we don’t deal with this now, when will we deal with it Are we going to let this linger on for another 15 years, another 20 years, another 30 years,” Obama said earlier this year.

If Obama transfers the remaining detainees to other countries in the final days of his presidency, Guantanamo’s commanders say they can quickly shutter the place.

Rear Admiral Peter J. Clarke, Joint Task Force Guantanamo, has stated that when we get the order to transfer, they’d be able to do so on short notice.

Of the remaining detainees:

  • 30 are being held without charge.
  • 20 have been approved for transfer.
  • 10 face military tribunals – including the five accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks.

U.S. Army Colonel Steve Gabavics, Commander of the Joint Detention Group, says there’s a very positive atmosphere among the detainees, “because there’s already at this point in time twenty detainees who have been approved for release and they’ve seen many of the movements of their fellow detainees going off to different countries and transferring.”

When Americans go to the polls, their votes will decide the fate of people who some call enemies and others call people held in unlawful intention. All less than 900 kilometers from the coast of the United States.

Photos from Guantanamo Bay detention center