Koror: Up to nine Chinese Muslims held in Guantanamo Bay for the past seven years will be moved to the remote Pacific territory of Palau by the end of the year, President Johnson Toribiong has confirmed.
Residents in the archipelago have expressed unease at having the Uighurs in their midst, and Beijing has demanded they be sent back to China, but Toribiong said he was in the process of finalising an agreement with the United States.
Between four and nine of the remaining 13 Uighurs at Guantanamo will likely be transferred to Palau "before January of next year”, he said yesterday.
A lawyer representing the Uighurs said they could be transferred as soon as late August or early September.
Toribiong said Palau would accept the Uighurs as a "humanitarian gesture" and to strengthen ties with the United States.
The detainees were among 22 Uighurs living in a self-contained camp in Afghanistan when the US-led invasion of the country began in October 2001, in the wake of the
September 11 attacks that year.
They said they had fled to Afghanistan to escape persecution in their vast home region of Xinjiang in western China.