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05-05-06, 20:28
Chinese Guantanamo detainees freed

From correspondents in Washington

May 06, 2006

THE United States has announced the overnight release of five Chinese Uighur Muslims from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and said they have been accepted by Albania for resettlement.

"Earlier today, the government of Albania accepted for resettlement as refugees five ethnic Uighurs, who are Chinese nationals, who had been detained by the US Department of Defence at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"The Government of Albania's resettlement of these individuals is an important humanitarian gesture," the State Department said.

The five are believed to be among a group of 20 Uighur Muslims who have been cleared for release from Guantanamo Bay.

The United States has found no country to accept the Uighur Muslims who are seeking their own homeland on territory that is now part of northwestern China, called the Xinjiang region.

The United States did not return them to China for fear that the government would persecute or torture them. The Uighurs have fought the Chinese government and are accused of terrorist attacks there.

The Uighur American Association welcomed the release of the five, who they said had already arrived in Albania.

"This is just incredible news," said Nury Turkel, the association's president. "It's all been very sudden and unexpected, but we understand that all five men are healthy and happy to be free, if a little bewildered by events."

It is not yet known what conditions were set for the men's release, nor what prompted the Albanian government to accept the men.

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