The White House announced Tuesday that more prisoner transfers from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba are expected before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20. Trump has criticized the move as “extremely dangerous” and called on the outgoing administration to stop the releases.
Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, saying that “there should be no further releases from Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay) There are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”
Responding to the tweet, White House spokesman John Earnest said that “I would expect at this point additional transfers to be announced before January 20,” adding that once Trump takes office he “will have an opportunity to implement the policy that he believes is most effective.”
Many took to social media to point out that many detainees in the prison have not been charged with offenses or given trial and a number have already been cleared for release.
The prison opened in 2002 as a facility to hold terrorism suspects and has been widely condemned for accusations of torture, human rights abuses and detaining suspects without trial and due process.
WATCH: Anniversary: U.S. Occupation of Guantanamo Bay
“Guantanamo, with its shameful tradition of secrecy and insularity from legal process, would be all too convenient a location for mass imprisonment, returning the United States to one of its grimmest chapters,” read an open letter from Amnesty International urging Obama to close the prison.
Obama has repeatedly promised to shut down the prison during his presidency, yet there is still estimated to be 59 prisoners held in the prison and 17 to 18 set for release. While 179 prisoners have been repatriated or resettled during Obama's administration, his attempts to shut it down has faced stiff opposition from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. Obama has the authority to implement an executive order to close the prison but has refused to enact such a measure.
During his presidential campaign, Trump declared that he would not only keep the prison open but would also “load it up with some bad dudes.” The president-elect’s nominee for the head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, is known for defending harsh “interrogation” methods, or torture, such as waterboarding, and has argued that keeping the facility open is critical to U.S. national security.
A group of human rights organizations are planning a large protest outside the White House to coincide with the prison's 15th anniversary on Jan. 11.