Palau to Take Gitmo's Chinese Detainees
Island nation's move resolves key camp-closing concern
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 10, 2009 8:41 AM CDT
This July 2005 photo shows an aerial view of two causeways built on the northeast coast of the island of Babeldoab, the largest of Palau's more than 300 islands.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers)
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(Newser) – Palau agreed to accept 17 Chinese Muslims who have languished in legal limbo at Guantanamo Bay, indicating a resolution to one of the thorniest issues facing the Obama administration's decision to close the prison camp. The announcement, which would clear the last of the Uighurs from the camp, was a major step toward finding new homes for detainees who have been cleared of wrongdoing but cannot go home for fear of ill-treatment.

The US feared the minority Uighurs would be tortured or executed as Islamic separatists if returned to China, but the Obama administration faced fierce congressional opposition to allowing them on US soil as free men. President Johnson Toribiong said the decision of Palau, one of a handful of countries that does not recognize China and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, was "a humanitarian gesture" intended to help the detainees restart their lives.