White House denies considering executive action to close Guantanamo

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The White House on Thursday denied a report that President Barack Obama is putting together options for executive action to close the controversial US military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in defiance of congressional wishes.

The Wall Street Journal, citing administration officials, reported that the White House was "drafting options" to close the facility by overriding a ban put in place by Congress that prohibits prisoners from being brought to the United States.

"Since the President came into office in 2009 the administration has been examining all possible ways we could get to closure of the facility, but we are not drafting options to override the law," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.

"We are continuing to work on transfers (of prisoners) and calling on Congress to lift restrictions."

Obama has vowed since his 2008 presidential campaign to close the prison camp, which critics say violates US principles by keeping detainees locked up without trial.

The White House has long objected to congressional restrictions that would prevent the camp from closing.

"Our position right now, our policy right now, is seeking support from Congress to lift the restrictions that we feel are misguided," said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman.

Many Republicans consider the prison, which still holds about 150 prisoners, essential in the fight against international terrorism because it allows prisoners to be held outside the United States.

The White House said it would continue to make efforts to repatriate or resettle detainees or prosecute them through federal courts or military commission proceedings.

The administration would also proceed in talks with foreign governments to negotiate possible prisoner transfers.