6 Gitmo Uighurs Arrive in Palau

Latest transfers trade prison for ocean views
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 1, 2009 7:56 AM CST
In this Monday, June 1, 2009 file photo, Chinese Uighur Guantanamo detainees, who at the time were cleared for release but had no country to go to, show a homemade note at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool, File)
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(Newser) – Six Chinese Muslims newly released from Guantanamo Bay traded life behind bars today for rooms with ocean view in the tiny Pacific nation of Palau. The Uighurs, in US custody since 2001, were met at the airport in the middle of the night by President Johnson Toribiong and taken to their new home—a large house in the heart of Koror. "They appeared to be very happy," Toribiong told reporters. "They smiled, they thanked me, they called me brother. It's amazing. I feel really good about it."

The Pentagon determined last year that the Uighurs held at Guantanamo were not "enemy combatants," but they have been in legal limbo ever since, as President Obama sought countries willing to take them as part of his plan to close the detention facility by next January. Before this transfer, about 221 prisoners remained at Guantanamo.