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Posted on Thu, Oct. 28, 2004
Chinese Muslims Held at Gitmo to Be Freed
WASHINGTON - Defense officials have authorized the release of a majority of the 22 Chinese Muslims being held at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, the State Department said Thursday.
Spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration is seeking to relocate the Uighurs, from northwest China, in a third country because they do not wish to resettle in China.
Boucher said it was unclear if they would be eligible for asylum in the United States.
The State Department has contacted a number of countries, mostly European, about possible resettlement of the Uighurs. One country, which an official refused to identify, has indicated an interest.
Amnesty International has said the Uighurs should not be returned to China because they could face torture and possible execution.
Boucher said the administration is "certainly not in a position to say that they wouldn't be tortured or persecuted" if they are returned to China.
Some Uighurs support independence from China for their home province of Xinjiang. China says the independence fighters represent an Islamic movement linked to al-Qaida.