U.S. looking for asylum for some Guantanamo prisoners

Friday, February 17, 2006

A detainee is escorted to a medium security facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Some men imprisoned at Guantanamo are not considered a threat by the Pentagon. For months United States officials have been trying to find a country which will grant these men asylum.

"What's clear here is that the military had its own military secret tribunal. There were no lawyers there, I wasn't there," said a Boston attorney who represents two of the detainees in question. "They determined at this tribunal that these men were not al Qaeda, they were not Taliban. They were not criminals, they were not enemies. They were a mistake."

Three months ago, the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jan Krc, asked that country to give asylum to a group of Guantanamo detainees which would have set them free in Europe. The U.S. request to the Czechs about asylum was "a humanitarian request because we clearly need to place these people somewhere," Krc said.

US Judge James Robertson said in December 2005 that "nothing… establishes that the government has or could reasonably have a concern that these petitioners would return to the battlefield if released."

The U.S. State Department told ABC News yesterday in a written statement,"It is the long-standing policy of the United States not to transfer a person to a country if it is determined that it is more likely than not that the person will be tortured… we are looking into resettlement… outside China." However,the US government has denied granting asylum within the USA to these men.

With regard to Guantanamo Bay prisoners in general, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan said yesterday, "These are dangerous terrorists that we're talking about that are there and I think we've talked about that issue before and nothing's changed in terms of our views." McClellan added, "We know that these are dangerous terrorists that are being kept at Guantanamo Bay. They are people that are determined to harm innocent civilians or harm innocent Americans. They were enemy combatants picked up on the battlefield in the war on terrorism."