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Switzerland to accept 2 Uighur Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] The Swiss Federal Council announced [press release] Wednesday that it would accept two Uighur detainees from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives]. The council decided to admit the detainees for humanitarian reasons, despite the Chinese citizenship of both Uighurs and recent warnings [JURIST report] by the Chinese Embassy in Switzerland [official website] that Switzerland would jeopardize relations with China by accepting the detainees. After psychological tests [Reuters report] and further investigation, the Council concluded that the detainees did not pose a security threat. Authorities from the canton of Jura [official website, in French], where the detainees will be housed, announced [press release, in French] Tuesday that it was prepared to issue a residence permit, and the Council has instructed the Federal Office for Migration [official website, in French] to approve the permits.

Of the 22 Uighurs originally detained at Guantanamo Bay, 15 have been relocated. Six Uighurs were transferred to Palau in October, four were sent to Bermuda last June, and five were received by Albania [JURIST reports] in 2006. In December, Albania announced that it would not accept [JURIST report] any more Uighur detainees in an effort to preserve positive relations with China. In November, four Uighurs at Guantanamo filed a petition for certiorari [JURIST report] with the Supreme Court, challenging an appellate ruling that prohibited courts from preventing the transfer of detainees to foreign countries for fear of persecution or torture. China has continued to call for repatriation [JURIST report] of the Uighur detainees that Chinese authorities consider to be part of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and which has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has previously rejected China's calls to repatriate the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return.

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