10 Jun 2009

Palau offers to take 17 Guantanamo Bay detainees

9:56 pm on 10 June 2009

The Micronesian nation of Palau has offered to take 17 Chinese detainees from Guantanamo Bay for temporary resettlement.

The detainees are ethnic Uighurs from the mostly Muslim autonomous region in western China.

Marianas Variety newspaper reports that Palau's president, Johnson Toribiong, says the offer is a humanitarian gesture.

Mr Toribiong says the decision has nothing to do with the forthcoming review of the Compact of Free Association, under which the United States gives large sums of money to Palau.

There were fears for the safety of the 17 Chinese Muslims if they were repatriated to China.

Palau, a former US trust territory, grants diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, not China.

The detainees have been in legal limbo since an appeal court halted a judge's order to release them.

Test case transfer

Meanwhile, the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to face trial in a civilian court in the United States has been transferred to New York.

The trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is a test case for US President Barack Obama's plans to close the prison for foreign terrorism suspects.

Mr Ghailani, from Tanzania, is accused of involvement in the bombing of US embassies in Africa.

He faces 286 charges, including conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans. Of the 286 charges, 224 are for the murder of each of those killed in the bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998.

Mr Ghailani pleaded not guilty to all the charges in a Manhattan court on Wednesday.