CHINA> National
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates
By Zhang Xin (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-12 07:50

Citing security concerns, Germany has reversed a decision to take in nine Chinese detained at Guantanamo Bay.

The US is trying to find homes for the detainees as it shuts down the controversial prison. But Germany's interior minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a newspaper the US has not provided adequate information on the prisoners, AFP reported.

Related readings:
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates China urges return of Gitmo inmates
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates Beijing wants Chinese Gitmo detainees
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates National Geographic film goes Inside Guantanamo
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates Obama criticizes some Guantanamo release decisions
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates Guantanamo detainees say they planned 9/11: report
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates UK lawyer: Guantanamo inmate release due Monday
Germany rejects Guantanamo inmates Fidel tells Obama to give back Guantanamo Bay

Officials in some German federal states also made U-turns and now oppose the inmates' resettlement, AFP reported.

The interior minister of Bavaria, Joachim Herrmann, said "no" to the move as he told German media Bild that security intelligence showed seven of the nine Uygurs - Muslims from Northwest China's Xinjiang autonomous region - had received training from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement and had contacts with militant Islamist organizations.

"We have no interest in exposing ourselves to additional risk," Holger Hoevelmann, interior minister of Germany's Saxony-Anhalt state, told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily newspaper.

US President Barack Obama has been lobbying allies in Europe and elsewhere to resettle the Guantanamo detainees, who the US claim pose no security threat but can't return to their home countries.

Obama has vowed to shut the notorious jail, which has been dogged by reports of prison torture under the Bush administration, by January 2010.

Feng Zhongping, an expert in European studies with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said it was not surprising for Germany to change its mind because of rising domestic pressure.

"Some politicians agreed to resettle the nine Chinese prisoners to be consistent in their support for the US closure of Guantanamo, as Germany had long pressed for the shutdown, while others have kept questioning the security issues - why doesn't the US keep them in America and why put them here in Germany?" Feng said.

"It is reasonable to send the nine back to China but the US is unlikely to do so," Feng said.

Out of the 240 prisoners in Guantanamo who can't return to their home countries, the US is still trying to find countries willing to accept 50 of them. Many Americans oppose housing them in the US, said AFP.

Only France and Portugal have signaled a readiness to accept Guantanamo inmates, according to Reuters.

Zhao Junjie, an expert in European Studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said most European countries are very "cautious" about resettling the Guantanamo inmates for fear of potential public threats and for domestic political reasons.

"Most of the European countries are working on a balance to maintain their relationship with the US while keeping away potential acts of terror," Zhao said.