Twelve years of detention without trial have ended for three Uighur men who have left Guantánamo Bay for Slovakia, the US Department of Defense announced on Tuesday, ending a clear mistake of the 9/11 era.
The three men – Yusef Abbas, Hajiakbar Abdulghuper and Saidullah
Khalik – did not pose any terrorist threat to the US, a recognition the
Defense Department came to during the Bush administration. A federal judge ordered them freed in 2008,
and a 2009 panel appointed by President Barack Obama concurred. Their
continuing detention was the result of a snarled political, bureaucratic
and diplomatic process that underscored the continuing difficulty of
closing the notorious detention center.
The diplomatic breakthrough came when Slovakia agreed to allow the
last of Guantánamo’s Uighur population to “voluntarily resettle”,
according to a statement from Rear Admiral John Kirby, the new Pentagon
press secretary, who added that the US thanked Slovakia for its
“humanitarian gesture”. There are now 155 detainees at Guantánamo, most
of whom have not been charged with any offense.