The Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to take in 17 Chinese Muslims now held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the country’s ambassador to the United States said Wednesday.
Details of the transfer are still being worked out, Ambassador Hersey Kyota told CNN. But Kyota said his country, a former U.S. Pacific trust territory, has agreed to take in the ethnic Uighur detainees “for humanitarian reasons” and because of the “special relationship” between Palau and the United States. The agreement includes some U.S. aid for Palau, Kyota said, but he said those details remained to be worked out as well. The country, about 1,000 miles southeast of Manila, Philippines, has relied heavily on U.S. aid since its independence in 1994 and depends on Washington for defense. The Uighurs were accused of receiving weapons and military training in Afghanistan.
Officials: Palau considering taking Uighur detainees
Administration asks court to reject Uighurs’ appeal
Some of the prisoners have been cleared for release from the Guantanamo Bay facility since 2003, but the United States would not send them back to China out of concern that Chinese authorities would torture them. A federal court ordered the men released, but an appeals court halted that order.
China has said no returned Uighurs would be tortured, but it has warned other countries against taking the men. Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu told reporters in February that the men “must be handed over to China and brought to justice.”