US commander of Guantanamo Bay prison 'relieved of duty'

Navy Rear Adm. John Ring was fired for a 'loss of confidence in his ability to command', the US Southern Command said.

    Currently, about 40 detainees are being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility [File: John Moore/Getty Images]
    Currently, about 40 detainees are being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility [File: John Moore/Getty Images]

    Military officials say the commander of the task force that runs the prison at the US Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been fired for a "loss of confidence in his ability to command".

    A statement from US Southern Command issued on Sunday says Navy Rear Admiral John Ring was relieved of duty on Saturday.

    The facility's deputy commander, Army Brigadier General John Hussey, is now the acting commander.

    The statement says the change in leadership "will not interrupt the safe, humane, legal care and custody provided to the detainee population at GTMO", as the prison is known. 

    The decision to remove Ring from his post was not associated with a recent media visit which he hosted at the base, the New York Times reported.

    According to the US daily, Colonel Amanda Azubuike, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command, said the move was based on a month-long investigation that was opened in March.

    Ring was the 18th leader of the prison operations that started in January 2002, the New York Times said. He began that assignment in April 2018 and was due to be replaced in a routine rotation by mid-June.

    "The vast majority of commanders complete their assigned tours with distinction," New York Times quoted Azubuike as saying.

    "When they fall short, we hold our leaders accountable, which reflects the importance we place on the public's trust and confidence in our military leaders."

    Shortly after taking over responsibly for the prison facility, Ring began to advocate for a new prison to be built for some 15 detainees who had been held by the CIA before their 2006 transfer to US military custody, because they were aging, the New York Times reported.

    Currently, about 40 prisoners are being held at the infamous prison. At its peak, in mid-2003, it held nearly 700 detainees.

    Last year, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep the facility open.

    The move by Trump broke away from the positions of former presidents, including Barack Obama, who believed the prison should be closed down - although he did not manage do that during his time in office.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies