Guantanamo Bay prison commander John Ring fired

/ CBS/AP

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

A statement from U.S. Southern Command says Navy Rear Adm. John Ring was relieved of those duties Saturday. The facility's deputy commander, Army Brig. Gen. John Hussey, has been designated as acting commander.

The commander of Southern Command, Navy Adm. Craig Faller, was the officer who removed Ring. The statement says the change in leadership "will not interrupt the safe, humane, legal care and custody provided to the detainee population at GTMO."

Photo reviewed by U.S. military officials shows U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Ring, then the commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, speaks during roundtable discussion with media on April 17, 2019, in Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba. Alex Brandon / AP

About 40 prisoners are being held at the facility. At its peak, in mid-2003, it held nearly 700.

The Guantanamo detention center was opened under President George W. Bush to hold terrorism suspects caught abroad after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some of its alleged practices have proven extremely controversial over the years — including alleged torture — as has the question of whether to keep the facility open.

The firing was first reported by The New York Times, which worked on the story with the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

The Times said the move came seven weeks before Ring was scheduled to leave the post. The newspaper said it was told the firing "had nothing to do with a recent news media visit he hosted there" and Ring was "let go after a monthlong investigation that was opened in March."

During that tour, Ring expressed concern about caring for detainees who were approaching old age.

First published on April 29, 2019 / 5:16 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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