Uruguay president asks US to free Cuban prisoners

Associated PressMarch 21, 2014 

— Uruguay’s president on Friday asked the United States to free three Cuban prisoners in exchange for receiving five Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The Cuban prisoners were sentenced in 2001 on charges including conspiracy and failing to register as foreign agents. President Jose Mujica said that the U.S. should release them.

Mujica indicated Thursday that he’s open to taking in some former terror suspects still held at Guantanamo.

He said Friday that he wants to help bring an end to the Guantanamo base calling it “an embarrassment on humankind.”

“In that prison there are an abundance of inmates without processes, who’ve never seen a public prosecutor, a judge,” he said.

U.S. officials have repeatedly rejected appeals to release the three Cuban spies still held or to exchange them for an American held in Cuba.

President Barack Obama has pledged to close the prison on the U.S. base in Cuba but was thwarted by Congress.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo said there would be no new comment on Friday. On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Julissa Reynoso denied that any deal was done on the prisoners, saying that U.S. and Uruguayan authorities were “still talking.”

The U.S. has resettled 43 Guantanamo detainees in 17 countries since Obama took office, and released 38 others to their homelands. Last week, the State Department office working to close the prison said to expect significant progress with the remaining 154.

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