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First Guantánamo inmate arrives in Switzerland

The first former Guantánamo detainee to be granted Swiss asylum has settled in the country.

The Uzbek national arrived in January in his host canton of Geneva, the government announced on Tuesday.

The government stressed that he is a free man who has never been charged with any offence; he has committed to learning one of the national languages and intends to look for work to support himself. The man’s identity and location will be kept secret so as to protect his integration into the country, the government noted.

The cabinet agreed in December to grant him asylum on humanitarian grounds. He had spent seven years in the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.

Switzerland has been in discussions with the US authorities for several months about accepting prisoners released from Guantánamo. The detainees have to be approved by the government and a canton must be found which is willing to receive them.

Another Guantánamo ex-detainee, an Algerian, whose asylum application was rejected by the Swiss Migration Office, won an appeal to Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court on December 18, and will have his case re-examined.

Switzerland is also studying the case of two brothers from the Chinese province of Xinjiang.

The US government has admitted they were refugees rather than terrorists and the western canton of Jura has said it is ready to accept them. But the Chinese embassy in Bern wants the two men sent back to China.

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