Washington, Jan 1 (IANS/EFE) The US has transferred to Slovakia the last three prisoners of the Uyghur community from China at the US Navy base in Guantanamo, the Pentagon has said.
Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik and Hajiabkar Abdul Ghuper were freed in compliance with an October 2008 federal court order and moved voluntarily to Slovakia, according to the Defense Department statement Tuesday.
All three men are Chinese citizens. The mainly Muslim Uyghurs are the largest ethnic group in the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang.
Abbas, 33, Khalik, 36, and Ghuper, 40, were held at Guantanamo for 11 years and six months.
They were the last among the 22 Uyghurs from China captured after the US invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks.
In 2003, the US military came to the conclusion that the Uyghurs were not enemy combatants fighting against the US, and in 2006 the administration of President George W. Bush sent five Uyghur prisoners from Guantanamo to Albania.
US President Barack Obama promised during his 2008 electoral campaign that he would close the prison at Guantanamo, but ran into congressional opposition and the refusal of other countries to accept those released.
Cliff Sloan, a State Department official whom President Obama charged with renewing efforts to release all Guantanamo prisoners, said all Uyghurs have now been relocated to six different countries.