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Geneva ready to take Guantánamo prisoners

Geneva has announced it is prepared to accept released prisoners from Guantánamo, the first Swiss canton to do so.

The cantonal authorities said they wanted to reinforce Geneva's reputation as a humanitarian city, but said any former inmate of the military prison at the US airbase on Cuba would have to be innocent and have had no contacts with terrorism.

On January 21 the government said it welcomed a decision by the new president, Barack Obama, to close Guantánamo as soon as possible. It repeated that Switzerland considered the imprisonment of people at the base to be contrary to international law.

In a statement the government said Switzerland was ready to see how it could help solve the Guantánamo problem, and specifically whether it could take any of the prisoners. This would require a thorough and careful examination of the legal implications and security considerations, it added.

In November the Swiss Migration Office turned down asylum requests from three Guantánamo inmates – a Libyan, an Algerian and a Chinese. The human rights organisation Amnesty International is supporting an appeal against this decision made to the Federal Administrative Court.

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