Steinmeier defends refusal to take back Guantanamo man

30th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 March 2007, Berlin (dpa) - At a parliamentary inquiry, Foreign Minister Frank- Walter Steinmeier defended Berlin's decision in 2002 not to accept back a German-raised man being held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish national born and educated in the German city of Bremen, was not released till August 2006. He says he was mistreated after capture as a 19-year-old Islamist in Pakistan. Political opponents have charged that Steinmeier, as former overseer of the intelligence s

30 March 2007

Berlin (dpa) - At a parliamentary inquiry, Foreign Minister Frank- Walter Steinmeier defended Berlin's decision in 2002 not to accept back a German-raised man being held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish national born and educated in the German city of Bremen, was not released till August 2006. He says he was mistreated after capture as a 19-year-old Islamist in Pakistan.

Political opponents have charged that Steinmeier, as former overseer of the intelligence services and head of the German chancellery, was responsible for Kurnaz staying years longer in the prison camp. No evidence was ever found that Kurnaz was a terrorist.

In Thursday's testimony before the inquiry in Berlin, Steinmeier repeated his insistence that the threat to world security after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington justified the refusal to take Kurnaz back.

He said there had been grounds at the time to regard Kurnaz as a danger, and he still believed the 2002 decision was the right one.

"Basically we are talking about not running away from responsibility and accepting this responsibility afterwards," he told the panel. He said it had been his job to look after Germany's security.

Germany's former interior minister, Otto Schily, had earlier in the day told the inquiry that he accepted "political responsibility" for the decision against accepting Kurnaz back on German soil in 2002.

Steinmeier said it had been wisest at the time to insist that if Kurnaz were released, he should be sent to Turkey, not Germany.

The official became foreign minister at the end of 2005 under Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has strongly criticised the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and has told US President George W Bush it should be shut.

DPA

Subject: German news

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