WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has secretly notified Congress that the military intends to transfer six low-level Guantánamo Bay detainees to Uruguay as early as next month, according to people with knowledge of the communication. All six have been approved for transfer for more than four years.
Mr. Hagel’s formal determination that the transfer would be in the national security interest of the United States breaks a bureaucratic paralysis over a deal that has been waiting for his approval since March, but stalled amid the political uproar over a prisoner exchange deal that secured the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The six detainees bound for Uruguay include a Syrian man who has brought a high-profile court challenge to the Pentagon’s procedures for forcibly feeding detainees who are on a hunger strike. His transfer would most likely render that lawsuit moot, although there are several similar challenges.
“The United States is grateful to our partner, Uruguay, for this significant humanitarian gesture, and appreciates the Uruguayan government’s generous assistance as the United States continues its efforts to close the detention facility at Guantánamo,” said Ian Moss, a State Department spokesman. “We remain very appreciative of the assistance of our friends and allies who have stepped up not just to receive their own nationals but also those countries who have accepted detainees for resettlement.”