WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is planning to release around one third of the almost 500 prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay having decided they pose no threat to US security.
A total of 141 prisoners have been reclassified and are no longer considered "enemy combatants" - the term used by the Bush administration for the detainees who were not afforded the usual rights laid out by the Geneva Conventions.
The decision follows a year-long review of cases during which the US authorities additionally determined these prisoners could no longer provide any intelligence.
It is unclear when the prisoners will be released.
"[They are] no longer enemy combatants," Lt Cmdr Chito Peppler of the Pentagon office in charge of reviewing detainee status told the Los Angeles Times.
The prison camp has been the source of searing criticism from human rights groups and others who say the Bush administration has suspended all usual legal processes in order to hold the prisoners.
Lawyers for the detainees, who are forced to work in the most difficult and censored conditions, argue that the majority of those taken to Guantanamo Bay have no intelligence about al Qaeda.
Lawyers say most were simply swept up in the aftermath of the US operation against al Qaeda in Afghanistan in late 2001.
Only 10 of the 490 men currently detained at the facility have been charged with any offence.
None has been charged with a capital crime.
Around 250 prisoners have previously been released.
- INDEPENDENTBy Andrew Buncombe