Last three Uighers leave Guantanamo

Miami HeraldDecember 31, 2013 


A detainee is escorted to an interrogation room at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

PETE SOUZA — Chicago Tribune/MCT

The Obama administration sent three ethnic Uighur Muslim captives from Guantánamo to Slovakia on Monday, ending one of the saddest and longest-running chapters of unlawful detention at the U.S. prison camps in Cuba.

Yusef Abbas, 38, Hajiakbar Abdulghuper, 39, and Saidullah Khalik, 36, left the remote U.S. Navy base in a secret operation, according to U.S. government sources. They had spent about a dozen years in U.S. military custody.

Their transfer reduced the prison camp population to 155 captives, 11 fewer than when the year started. It was the government’s latest incremental step toward reaching President Barack Obama’s mandate to close the detention center.

The three men were the last of 17 Chinese citizens who a federal judge ruled in 2008 were unlawfully detained at Guantánamo after the Bush administration abandoned an argument that they were “enemy combatants,” the U.S. term for prisoners of the war on terror.

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