View Full Version : China criticizes U.S. release of detainees to Albania

19-05-06, 20:00
China criticizes U.S. release of detainees to Albania
The Associated Press
BEIJING — China on Tuesday blasted a U.S. decision to release five Chinese Muslims from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to seek asylum in Albania.

China described them as suspected terrorists and demanded their return.

A European-based Uighur Muslim activist said the men would face the death penalty or torture if sent back to China.

The five Chinese were held in Guantanamo for several years after being picked up during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The United States said last week that it was letting them go to Albania after concluding they posed no terrorist threat to the U.S. but might face persecution if returned to China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Tuesday that the men are suspected of being members of a group accused of waging a violent separatist campaign in China’s northwestern Muslim region of Xinjiang.

“The five people accepted by the Albanian side are by no means refugees, but terrorist suspects,” Liu said at a news briefing.

Beijing says the group — the Xinjiang-based East Turkestan Islamic Movement — has links to al-Qaida and has received arms and training from the terrorist network. But the government hasn’t released evidence to support its claims.

“If they are sent to China, they almost certainly, almost 100 percent, face a death sentence,” said Dilxat Raxit, a Uighur Muslim activist in Stockholm, Sweden. “And if they don’t get a death sentence, they are very likely to face torture in prison.”

Manfred Nowak, a U.N. torture investigator, visited Xinjiang last year and said Uighur detainees were among those most likely to be mistreated by Chinese authorities.

Liu did not respond directly when asked what charges the suspects would face if returned to China.

Beijing blames Uighur separatists for sporadic bombings and other violence in the massive desert region in China’s far northwest. But diplomats and foreign experts are skeptical and say most violence stems from personal disputes.

19-05-06, 20:03