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Germany

German Official Urges Berlin to Accept Guantanamo Inmates

The human rights envoy for the German government has urged Berlin to help US President-Elect Obama meet his promise to close the controversial prison camp Guantanamo Bay by taking in innocent inmates.

An American flag waves in the breeze behind razor-wire at Camp Delta

Guantanamo Bay has come to symbolize aggressive dentention practices

In an interview with newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau published on Saturday, Dec 20, Guenter Nooke said Germany along with other European nations had to ensure that Guantanamo's planned closure went ahead as planned.

German human rights envoy Guenter Nooke

Nooke wants Germany to help close Guantanamo Bay

"Guantanamo is an American problem. But you can't allow its closure to fail because no-one knows where to put the prisoners," Nooke told the paper.

In particular, Germany should be prepared to take in some of the 17 Uighurs held at the prison camp in Cuba, Nooke said.

Germany urged to take in Uighur prisoners

A Muslim minority native to Central Asia, the Uighurs face political persecution in their homeland China, according to human rights groups. Their struggle for independence is strongly opposed by China. Germany has a small Uighur community, many of whom live in Munich.

The head of Amnesty International's Germany chapter, Barbara Lochbiler too urged the German government to lay particular emphasis on the Uighurs at Guantanamo -- there is no evidence of their involvement in terrorist activities -- while considering taking in prisoners.

"The Uighurs have a network in Germany. That's why it would be easier for them to start a new life here," Lochbiler told German news agency dpa.

Lochbiler said the German government together with other European Union nations should show its readiness to take in apparently innocent Guantanamo inmates. "Quick action is more than overdue," she said.

Guantanamo closure won't be easy

Earlier this week, a US defense official said the Pentagon is working on a plan to shut Guantanamo Bay that would be available to President-elect Barack Obama when he takes office on Jan. 20

Obama's decision to close the hugely controversial prison camp located at the US naval station in southeastern Cuba, has been welcomed by human rights groups and governments around the world. The prison has come to symbolize aggressive detention practices and has opened the United States to allegations of torture.

But it's largely accepted that shuttering the prison, set up by President Bush after the Sept 11 attack on New York and Washington, will be a tricky legal task. Many experts doubt whether any of the suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters imprisoned there will receive a fair public trial.

The German government has long called for the prison's closure with Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly bringing it up in talks with President Bush.

Murat Kurnaz vor Untersuchungsausschuß

Murat Kurnaz has published a book on his imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay

One of the first prisoners brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2002 included a German-born Turkish national Murat Kurnaz. He was held in the camp until 2006 and claims to have been tortured. No trial was held.

The head of Germany's opposition Green Party, Claudia Roth, on Saturday urged Merkel "to convey to the US government that Germany was prepared to take in Guantanamo inmates."

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