Guantanamo Bay prisoners to be offered coronavirus vaccines

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The Defense Department will offer the coronavirus vaccine to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility, a prosecutor involved in the government’s case against five of the prisoners said in a letter to defense lawyers.

“[A]n official in the Pentagon has just signed a memo approving the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine to the detainee population in Guantánamo,” prosecutor Clayton G. Trivett Jr. wrote Thursday, according to The New York Times.

The naval base has 6,000 residents, including 1,500 U.S. troops working at the prison. Vaccination of the residents began in early January of this year, but the Trump administration had not specified whether the prisoners would be vaccinated.

Trivett said the base could begin providing the shots to prisoners who consented as early as next Monday. The prison complex houses 40 detainees.

The lack of vaccinations has stymied Pentagon legal proceedings, including the case agains Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man who is accused of being one of the masterminds behind the attacks on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001.

It is unclear which prisoners, if any, will be willing to receive the vaccine. Attorneys for several prisoners said they would need to further consult with their clients, according to the newspaper.

Three prisoners at the complex are set to be arraigned Feb. 22. The schedule Trivett outlined would allow enough time for the three to receive the second and final dose in time for their court date, according to the Times.

The prisoners, Encep Nurjaman, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, are accused of participating in a series of Indonesian terror attacks in 2002 and 2003. They have been in U.S. custody since 2003.  

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