Portugal to resettle 2 Syrians from Guantanamo

Miami HeraldAugust 7, 2009 

Portugal announced Friday that it will resettle two Syrian men now held as detainees at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following France and Ireland in the humanitarian gesture.

The six-paragraph statement posted on Portugal's Minister of Foreign Affairs website did not name the two men.

But the joint foreign and interior ministries announcement linked the move to a broad European Union agreement to help the White House empty the prison camps that had been a source of tension between Europe and the Bush administration.

It cast U.S. closure of the camps as ``a milestone in revitalizing the transatlantic relationship and a victory for all those who advocate and promote respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism.''

The military holds fewer than a dozen Syrian men among its 229 foreigners at Guantánamo, including Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al Janko, 31, whose detention was ruled unlawful in June by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon wrote in June that Janko's detention as a war prisoner ``defies common sense'' in part because he had been held and tortured by the Taliban or al Qaeda in the 18 months prior to his capture by U.S. troops.

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