"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Six Guantanamo Prisoners Completely Free in Uruguay

Six prisoners released from the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay at the weekend will enjoy complete freedom and a normal life in Uruguay, the country's defence minister says.

Eleuterio Huidobro told Reuters news agency that Uruguay had not imposed or accepted any conditions when it agreed to receive the former inmates.

The six men arrived in Montevideo on Sunday after being freed by the US.

They spent 12 years in prison for alleged ties with al-Qaeda but were never charged.

The former inmates - four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian - were taken to a military hospital for health checks.

Montevideo Military Hospital
The Pentagon identified them as Abu Wael Dhiab, Ali Husain Shaaban, Ahmed Adnan Ajuri, and Abdelahdi Faraj, from Syria; Palestinians Mohammed Abdullah Taha Mattan; Adel bin Muhammad El Ouerghi, from Tunisia.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said they had been subjected to "an atrocious kidnapping".

"They will not be restricted in any way. Their status is that of refugees and immigrants," he told Reuters.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica
Mr Mujica has spoken out against the Guantanamo Bay detention centre
President Barack Obama has pledged to close the camp in Cuba, which was opened in 2002 as a place to detain enemy combatants in America's war on terror.

About half of the 136 men still in Guantanamo have been cleared for transfer but have nowhere to go because their countries are unstable or unsafe.

In Latin America, El Salvador is the only other country to have given Guantanamo prisoners sanctuary, taking two in 2012.

Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility
One of the former detainees, Abdelahdi Faraj, published an open letter through his lawyer in New York thanking Mr Mujica's decision.

"Were it not for Uruguay, I would still be in the black hole in Cuba today," he said.

"I have no words to express how grateful I am for the immense trust that you, the Uruguayan people, have placed in me and the other prisoners by opening the doors to your country."

Mr Mujica was himself held for over a decade in harsh prison conditions during Uruguay's period of military rule in the 1970s and 1980s.

He made the decision to take detainees from Guantanamo in March but the move was delayed until after November's presidential elections.

He was constitutionally barred from seeking re-election, but the vote was won by his party's candidate, Tabare Vasquez, who begins his term in March.