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Gitmo detainees in Germany?

dfm/hf/nrt/tt/rm, ap/dpa/Reuters
May 3, 2009

Germany has officially been asked to be the new home for up to 10 Guantanamo Bay inmates after the prison is closed next year, however the government will make a case-by case decision.

A Guantanamo prison shackled and being led by guards
The German government is divided over taking Guantanamo inmatesImage: AP

German government officials said on Monday that Berlin would run its own checks on Guantanamo Bay prisoners slated for release and resettlement to ensure that none of those freed pose any type of security threat.

"Germany has to make its own assessment," foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner told reporters in Berlin. An interior ministry spokesman added that "every decision is concerned with the individual case."

Government officials also said that Washington had drawn up an initial list of candidates slated for release, however they declined to say how many names were on the list under an agreement with the US administration to keep that information confidential.

The spokesman added that the ministry would make its decisions on a case-by-case basis in consultation with other EU countries and officials from Germany's 16 federal states.

He said that the criteria were related to German foreign residency law and would consider whether a detainee posed a security threat to Germany.

Uighur reports

Prisoners in orange coveralls crouch behind barbed wire fences as US military police watch them
There are 241 prisoners left at the Guantanamo Bay detention centerImage: dpa

Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Saturday that up to 10 so-called non-dangerous captives were being considered for release in Europe.

German daily newspaper Bild reported that the request concerned 10 Chinese ethnic Uighurs, who are viewed by Beijing as "Chinese terrorists." Munich, in the southern German state Bavaria, is home to around 500 Uighurs, the largest known community in exile.

But Bavaria's interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild his state would not offer its "candidacy to welcome these people." Most of the 17 Uighurs held at Guantanamo have been cleared of being enemy combatants.

Officials say it will be critical for the German government to be assured that none of the released prisoners have ties to terrorist networks. US officials will also have to explain why the prisoners can not be sent back to their home countries or settled in the US.

Around 50 detainees are unable to return to their homelands because of the danger that they will be tortured there.

Government divided

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, and Angela Merkel
The SPD and CDU appear to be on a collision course over accepting Guantanamo inmatesImage: picture-alliance/dpa/DW

US President Barack Obama fulfilled one of his campaign promises in the first days of his presidency by ordering the closure of the controversial detention center on the Cuban coast. Now he must decide what to do with the 241 remaining prisoners. US Attorney General Eric Holder said in Berlin last week that Washington would soon like to release 30 prisoners.

While other European nations, including France and Portugal, have indicated they are willing to accept Guantanamo prisoners, Germany's fractious left-right government is at odds over the issue.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat running for chancellor this year, said in an open letter to Obama in January that Germany would be willing to take in detainees if it helped him close Guantanamo.

But the conservative Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Obama could not expect Germany to accept freed inmates.

According to Bild, Schaeuble wants first to exhaust all possibilities of their being resettled within the United States.

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