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Diplomatic memos reveal Chinese effort to block Guantánamo prisoner's asylum bid

The US has cleared the Uighur prisoners at Gitmo of wrongdoing, but China calls them "terrorists." Seventeen Uighurs are seeking political asylum in Sweden, Canada, the US, and Germany.

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Newly revealed documents provide a rare glimpse at the diplomatic pressure used by China in its unsuccessful efforts to stop the Swedish government from granting asylum to a Uighur prisoner released from the Guantánamo prison.

Resettling the remaining 17 Uighur prisoners is widely viewed as a critical milestone in the Obama administration's plan to close the prison camp. If Sweden's example is any indication, the imprisoned Uighurs present a foreign-policy Gordian knot.

The men are members of a largely Muslim minority in western China. They have been ruled innocent, but are considered terrorists at home. And while they are among the 30 of Guantánamo's 241 remaining prisoners who have been cleared for release, they remain behind bars.

The formerly classified Swedish government documents show how foreign-policy concerns could be contributing to their ongoing detention. Given China's rising economic and political clout, much could be at stake for countries who agree to offer homes.

The memos from the Swedish Foreign Office note how China viewed it as " 'impossible to understand' that Swedish authorities had given a visa for this terrorist," and how "very 'unsatisfied' " China was that Sweden's Migration Court had granted Adil Hakimjan protection.


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