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4 prisoners at US base in Cuba OK'd for release

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon has determined that four more prisoners at the US naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, no longer pose much of a threat and it plans to release them, a senior official said yesterday.

No information on the four was available. The State Department is making arrangements to send them to their home countries, said Rear Admiral James M. McGarrah, who oversees the reviews of the prisoners.

A three-officer administrative review board decides whether the prisoners remain enough of a threat to justify keeping them at Guantanamo. Their home governments and families are allowed some input, but they are not afforded legal representation. Each prisoner can be released, transferred to his home government, or kept in detention. The Pentagon created the board after rights groups protested about the indefinite nature of the detentions.

Gordon England, acting deputy defense secretary, has also approved the board's decision to OK 25 transfers and 41 continued detentions, McGarrah said. The board intends to review the cases of most of the other prisoners at least once a year. About 520 inmates remain at Guantanamo; 234 have been released or transferred to the custody of their home governments. Of those, 12 have returned to terrorist activity, McGarrah said.

In all, 60 of the remaining prisoners are slated for release or transfer, according to Navy spokeswoman Captain Beci Brenton. Some of those decisions were made before the administrative review process began.

The people held at the base are mostly Afghans, Pakistanis, and others captured after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

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