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Uighur Guantanamo detainees released to El Salvador

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that two Uighur [JURIST news archive] detainees were released [press release] from the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] to be transferred to El Salvador, where they have chosen to resettle. They are being released pursuant to a 2008 order [JURIST report] by the US District Court for the District of Columbia. An executive order [text; JURIST report] issued in 2009 mandated review of the cases by the Interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force (IGRTF), and all six agencies on the force gave consent to release the two detainees. The US government has worked with the El Salvador government to ensure that the two men arrive safely and are not harmed upon arrival, as well as to protect them against inhumane treatment at any stage of the transfer.

Of the 22 Uighurs originally detained at Guantanamo, 17 others have also accepted offers of relocation to other countries. Two Uighurs were transferred to Switzerland, six to Palau, four to Bermuda and five to Albania [JURIST reports]. The Chinese government maintains that the Uighurs are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002. The US has previously rejected China's calls to repatriate [JURIST report] the Uighurs, citing fear of torture upon their return. Thursday's announcement marks the first transfer from Guantanamo since 2011, with 169 detainees remaining at the facility.

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