Berlin receives US request on Guantanamo inmates

4th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

US Attorney General Eric Holder said that Washington was looking at a list of about 30 detainees from the anti-terror lockup in Cuba whom they would like to see accepted by allied countries.

Berlin -- Germany has received a "specific request" from the United States to take in prisoners due to be released from Guantanamo Bay, an interior ministry spokesman said Sunday.

The list had been given to the German government the spokesman told AFP. The Interior Ministry, which would make any decision to accept inmates, expected to receive the request early this week.

"I can confirm that a specific request by the United States of America regarding the acceptance of Guantanamo prisoners has been delivered, with names and information" he said.

"Its review (at the interior ministry) will likely start early next week, possibly from Monday."

News weekly Der Spiegel reports in its Monday edition that Washington handed Berlin a list of "nearly 10" prisoners. The spokesman declined to confirm that figure.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said on a visit to Berlin last week that Washington was looking at a list of about 30 detainees from the anti-terror lockup in Cuba whom they would like to see accepted by allied countries.

They include prisoners who could not be returned to their countries of origin because they faced likely persecution there.

The Interior Ministry spokesman said it would make its decisions on a case-by-case basis in consultation with other European Union countries as well as officials from Germany's 16 federal states.

The criteria were set out in foreign residency law and included whether the applicant posed a security threat and whether he had any ties to Germany, he added. US authorities say the detainees are not dangerous.

The spokesman also underscored that Germany was under no obligation to take in the detainees.

"The United States bears the primary responsibility here," he said.

In a speech in Berlin, Holder urged European countries to make "sacrifices" to realise the transatlantic goal of closing the jail, in which prisoners have often been held for years without charge or trial, by January.

"We hope that Europe will join us -- not out of a sense of responsibility, but from a commitment to work with one of its oldest allies to confront one of the world's most pressing challenges."

However Germany's fractious left-right government is at odds over the issue.

AFP/Expatica

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