Australia spurns US request to take Guantanamo inmates

January 10th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaSydney, Jan 10 (DPA) Australia rejected Saturday a formal request from the US to resettle Chinese nationals currently detained in the Guantanamo Bay military prison.The Australian newspaper said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had been urged by Beijing not to take the 17 former terror suspects who are ethnic Uyghurs.

President George W. Bush is reluctant to let China take the Uyghurs for fear they would be tortured or even executed.

Last week the Foreign Ministry in Beijing declared opposition to the resettlement of the Uyghurs outside China, saying that “the 17 terrorist suspects detained at the US military base of Guantanamo are members of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is listed as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council”.

“The Chinese government requires these terrorist suspects be repatriated to China,” the ministry said. “We firmly oppose any countries receiving these people.”

Last week the Rudd government gave a cool response to suggestions from Washington that it offer to take the Uyghurs.

The US State Department has asked about 100 countries to accept some of the 255 detainees still held at Guantanamo so incoming president Barack Obama can keep a promise to close the military jail on Cuba.

Australia was a member of the US-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003 and helped oust the Taliban government in Afghanistan after the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

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