President Barack Obama on Friday signed a bill effectively barring suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay prison from being brought to the United States for criminal trial, a move that will make it hard to quickly close the jail.
"Despite my strong objection to these provisions, which my administration has consistently opposed, I have signed this act because of the importance of authorizing appropriations for, among other things, our military activities in 2011," Obama said in a statement.
The defense authorization act for fiscal 2011 includes provisions preventing funding for the transfer of suspects from the Guantanamo prison in Cuba to the United States. It also restricts the use of certain funds to ship them to other countries, unless specified conditions are met.
"My administration will work with the Congress to seek repeal of these restrictions, will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future," said Obama, who pledged during his 2008 presidential campaign to close Guantanamo.
Life in prison
At the same time, U.S. prosecutors on Friday urged a judge to sentence the first Guantanamo detainee to have faced a U.S. civilian trial to life in prison, and said the Tanzanian suspect had asked for leniency because he was tortured.
A U.S. jury found Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, 36, not guilty of all but one charge in November following a five-week trial in New York. He had been accused of conspiring in the 1998 al Qaeda bomb attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people.
He is due to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan on Jan. 25, and faces a minimum of 20 years in prison.
Ghailani captured and handed over to the CIA in July 2004 as a so-called enemy combatant. He was detained by the CIA at a secret location for more than two years. During that time, his defense attorneys said, he was repeatedly tortured.
Ghailani was moved to Guantanamo Bay in late 2006 and transferred to New York in June 2009 to stand trial.
Ghailani was convicted of one count of conspiracy to damage or destroy U.S. property with explosives, and cleared of 284 other conspiracy and murder charges.