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Germany Wants Own Investigation of Guantanamo Detainees

The German government will conduct its own investigation into the security risks posed by Guantanamo detainees before allowing any of the released terrorism suspects into the country.

Guantanamo prisoners escorted by two guards

Germany wants to assure former Guantanamo detainees are not a threat before accepting them

Germany has indicated that it would be willing to take some of the terrorism suspects who would be released once a US detention center in Guantanamo, Cuba is closed. But first, German leaders want to assure themselves that the detainees do not pose a threat.

US Vice President Joe Biden recently indicated that the United States will turn to its allies to take on some of the remaining 245 prisoners, all of whom were picked up during the US war on terror.

"We will ask others to take responsibility for some of those now at Guantanamo, as we determine to close it," Biden said at a recent security conference in Munich, Germany.

Germany waiting for a request

The US has indicated that approximately 60 of the prisoners have been determined to not be terrorists. But they continue to be held as the US fears they would be tortured or killed if returned home.

Germany is waiting for the United States to present a more specific request for help before doing anything, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry told the Stuttgarter Nachrichten in an article published on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

prison guard guantanamo

The US fears prisoners may be harmed if returned to their homes

"Our focus is on whether Germany's security is jeopardized," the Interior Ministry spokesman told the newspaper. "Nevertheless, we're waiting to see if there even are any requests from Washington."

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has promised that each detainee will be "very thoroughly" investigated, according to the newspaper report.

But Germany still believes that the United States is legally responsible for taking in released detainees. Any reason for not wanting to do so needs to be thoroughly explained, the spokesperson said.

Sebastian Edathy, a leading Social Democrat on the issue, spoke out in favor of the government conducting thorough checks on individual detainees before allowing them into Germany, but told the newspaper it's important that "a presumption of innocence not be turned upside down."

A leader of the Green Party, Christian Stroebele, renewed calls for the detainees to be released as soon as possible. He finds it unacceptable that innocent prisoners would be left to languish in Guantanamo while politicians "argue over who is responsible" for them.

Help for the Uighurs

Photo of US military personnel inspecting cells

The end to a long imprisonment may soon be near

Germany seems most interested in helping Muslim Uighurs from far western China. The city of Munich, which has the biggest community of ethnic Uighurs outside China, has indicated it would be willing to host the 17 Guantanamo inmates when they are released.

All of the Uighurs have been cleared of terrorist activity, but Washington has been reluctant to repatriate them to China for fear they would be persecuted or tortured.

Although there has been no consensus from the European Union on how to deal with released Guantanamo detainees, several other European countries have indicated they would be willing to accept a small number of the released prisoners.

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