Senator Tester Urges Closure of Guantanamo Bay - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Senator Tester Urges Closure of Guantanamo Bay

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After a two-day trip to Cuba, Senator Jon Tester said it's time to close Guantanamo Bay prison.

Senator Tester said it costs millions of dollars to house each of the 155 prisoners per year.

Tester said each of 155 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay costs between $1.5 million and $2 million per year.

"We simply can't afford that, super max prison, I've been told, for example, runs about $70,000 per year, which is plenty, but it's far less than $1.5 million."

And he said the facilities at Guantanamo are in need of a costly repair.

"They probably need somewhere between $30 and $50 million worth of updates," Tester said.

President Obama also voiced his support of closing Guantanamo during his State of the Union address this year.

"All in all, it confirmed my thoughts that I had before I went down to Guantanamo's prison, and that was that we need to close that prison down."

Senator Tester also spent one day in Havana, Cuba, meeting with Cuban government officials about the trade embargo issued back in 1960 after the Cuban Revolution when Fidel Castro came into power.

"I think there is incredible opportunity for particularly the agriculture producers in the state of Montana to be able to open up some trade relations with Cuba," Tester said.

Tester said much of Cuba's farmland is not utilized well, leaving much of the nation in some level of poverty.

"So, food is a big issue for them, and we raise a lot of food, so it could be mutually beneficial for both countries."

The senator also met with American Alan Gross, who's been in a Cuban jail since 2009 for setting up Internet access in small Cuban communities.

Gross has served four years of a 15-year sentence, and has lost more than 100 pounds since he was imprisoned.

Tester was joined by Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Bernie Sanders of North Dakota and Vermont.

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