China protests US' prisoner transfer

China protests US' prisoner transfer

China has opposed the US decision to send the last three Chinese Uygur terrorist suspects imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay to Slovakia, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Thursday, adding that China has always maintained that these terrorist suspects should be handed over to China rather being transferred to a third country.

"China firmly opposes any country accepting those suspects for any reason," he said.

According to a Pentagon statement on Tuesday, three terrorist suspects -- Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper -- who are members of the Uygur ethnic group, were to be moved from Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba. Slovakia's interior ministry later confirmed that the central European country would take in the three men.

Qin said the suspects were members of the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement, which is a small Islamic extremist group based in China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

In 2002, the US designated the group as a supporter of terrorist activity. In the same year, the United Nations added the group to its list of terrorists and terrorist supporters associated with Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida network.

"They are genuine terrorists. They not only threaten China's security, they will threaten the security of the country that receives them," Qin said in a daily news briefing.

"China hopes that the relevant country ... does not give asylum to terrorists, and sends them back to China as soon as possible."

Slovakia, a member state of the European Union, first accepted three Guantanamo prisoners in 2010, and the ministry said the latest transfer is the continuation of an EU-US agreement aimed at helping President Barack Obama close the prison.

The US said it was grateful to Slovakia for its "humanitarian gesture".

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