Obama revives tribunals for detainees

Friday 15 May 2009 18:40 BST

Barack Obama took steps today to revive the system of Guantanamo military trials for foreign terrorism suspects, angering supporters who believed he had promised to end the controversial tribunals set up by the Bush administration.

The President said his administration would revive the tribunals at the US military base in Guantanamo, Cuba after making several rule changes, including barring statements obtained under harsh interrogation and making it more difficult to use hearsay evidence.

The administration also asked for a 90-day delay in court proceedings at Guantanamo to allow time for the new rules to take effect. The rule changes must be shown to Congress 60 days before they go into force.

The decision was the second in less than a week to anger Obama supporters, who believed that his election campaign pledge to reject the law establishing military commissions would bring about an end to Guantanamo war crimes trials.

Obama, who took office in January, has promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by 2010. The prison was set up in 2002 to house prisoners in the US war on terrorism that George Bush declared after the hijacked plane attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

Obama earlier this week decided to fight the release of photographs depicting alleged abuse of prisoners, reversing an earlier promise. Obama said the pictures could endanger US troops abroad.

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