Palau's Prez Makes Moral Call to Take in Detainees
'They're not monsters,' says island leader
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jun 15, 2009 6:38 AM CDT
Palau President Johnson Toribiong speaks during an interview at a beach in Ngerkebesang, Palau.   (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
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(Newser) – That Palau's president was once a defense lawyer may explain why he risked upsetting his island's 20,000 residents and their peaceful isolation from the world to take in 13 former Guantanamo detainees. "They should be presumed innocent because no one has proven them guilty," newly elected Johnson Toribiong told the Los Angeles Times. "These people are not monsters.”

"It wasn't a hard decision,” says Toribiong, defending his call in the face of opposition. “There were only a few questions: Is it the right thing to do? Is it just? And will it benefit Palau in the long run? For me, the answers were all a resounding yes." Palau risks offending China by taking in the ethnic Uighurs, but retains the US as a powerful ally.