Uighur Guantanamo detainees may be released into US: Holder

Uighur Guantanamo detainees may be released into US: Holder

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] told reporters Wednesday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] will consider accepting in the US the 17 Uighur Guantanamo Bay detainees [JURIST news archive] who have been cleared for release. The DOJ is still exploring where to transfer cleared detainees, and has declined to repatriate the Uighurs despite Chinese demands [JURIST report] because they have been linked to a militant separatist group and could face torture upon their return. Holder's comments follow the February ruling [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit [official website], which rejected an October district court order [opinion and order, PDF; JURIST report] supporting the US release of Uighurs. The circuit court reserved such a decision for either the executive or legislative branch.

On Monday, Holder and other top officials from the Obama administration met with leaders [JURIST report] from the European Union (EU) [official website] to discuss plans to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] to European countries, assuring EU leaders that the US will provide them with thorough background information about the detainees. In February, Sweden's Migration Court granted asylum [judgment, PDF, in Swedish; JURIST report] to a former Uighur Guantanamo detainee, overruling a previous asylum denial. The city of Munich, Germany, home to a sizeable Uighur community, has expressed willingness to welcome the 17 Uighurs [The Local report]. In 2006, Albania granted asylum [JURIST report] to five Uighurs after their release from Guantanamo.