12 Jun 2009

Palau caught in diplomatic battle over Guantanamo detainees

8:49 am on 12 June 2009

The US government has announced that four detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have been released and permitted to resettle in Bermuda, a day after Palau offered to host them.

Palau's government said it would accept the detainees, both as a humanitarian gesture and to help President Barack Obama fulfill his promise to close the controversial prison for foreign terrorism suspects on the U.S.Naval base in Cuba.

From Washington, Simon Marks reports.

"The news that four of the Uighur detainees are already in Bermuda and other members of the group could soon be settled on Palau, at a stroke resolves one problem for the Obama administration, but may creat another. The fate of the Uighurs has been hanging in the balance, since the UN determined they were not enemies of the state, and could leave Guantanamo Bay. Fearing the Uighurs religious persecution the US refused to send the 17 muslims back to China, and the Obama administration has spent months searching for a new home for them. The fact that Bermuda and Palau have agreed to take the Uighurs is angering China, where a foreign ministry spokesman is now demanding their early return."