Thu, Mar 25, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Guantanamo men arrive in Georgia and Switzerland

AFP , GENEVA AND WASHINGTON

Two ethnic Uighurs from China freed from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay have arrived in Switzerland, Swiss authorities said yesterday, after the two were granted asylum despite China’s opposition.

The Swiss federal government and local authorities in the canton of Jura said the pair, who were not named, arrived on Tuesday.

“The two Uighurs with Chinese citizenship, who were granted admission for humanitarian reasons by Switzerland, have arrived in canton Jura,” the federal government said in a statement.

China had warned after Switzerland formally decided to take in the two ethnic Uighurs last month that the move would “surely undermine” bilateral relations.

The US also transferred three Guantanamo detainees to Georgia on Tuesday in a boost to US President Barack Obama’s efforts to shutter the prison, US and Georgian officials said.

“We are grateful to the government of Georgia for joining their efforts to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay,” US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

The transfer was believed to be the first time Georgia has accepted prisoners from Guantanamo.

Obama has pledged to close the controversial detention facility, but his administration has prodded allies, often in vain, to take in prisoners cleared of charges who cannot be returned to their home countries, and faced stern opposition at home to transfer them to US soil.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said three people “from Middle Eastern countries arrived in Georgia [on Tuesday] morning.”

“They will be free, they will live like normal citizens and they will have permanent contacts with their families,” Utiashvili said.

Utiashvili declined to elaborate on the background or identity of the former prisoners, but said they would not be allowed to leave the former Soviet republic.

Georgian National Security Council chief Eka Tkeshelashvili said Tbilisi agreed to accept the inmates as part of its efforts to build stronger ties with Washington.

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