German government spokesperson Thomas Steg said Monday that Germany would consider taking in detainees released from the Guantanamo Bay military prison if U.S. President-elect Barack Obama closed the facility. Steg said that Germany supports closure of the facility and that all European Union (EU) member states should cooperate to formulate a plan for taking in detainees who cannot be returned to their homelands because of risk of torture. Hamburg interior minister Christoph Ahlhaus said Monday that his state might be willing to take in detainees, but would consider each case on an individual basis.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered the Pentagon to draft a proposal for shutting down the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in preparation for a possible order from Obama. Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff told the BBC that before closing the Guantanamo prison, Obama must have a plan for dealing with the detainees. Portugal's foreign minister has said that his country would be willing to take in Guantanamo detainees if Obama closed the facility, and encouraged other EU member states to do the same. Rights groups have urged Obama to close the controversial military prison upon inauguration in January. Last month, the ACLU launched an ad campaign calling on Obama to close Guantanamo Bay and end the use of military commissions on his first day in office. Also in November, HRW called upon Obama to denounce Bush administration counterterrorism policies that they described as "abusive." Obama and his advisers have yet to reach a firm decision on the closure of the facility.