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US asks Swiss to take Guantanamo inmates

The United States has made an official request to Switzerland to accept inmates from the United States military prison at Guantanamo on the island of Cuba.

Cabinet minister Moritz Leuenberger told the House of Representatives on Monday that the government would examine the request "extremely closely".

He added that it would take account of the situation of detainees whom the US wants to free for lack of charges, but would also consider the possible consequences of accepting Guantanamo detainees in Switzerland.

In November the Federal Migration Office turned down asylum requests from three Guantanamo inmates - a Libyan, an Algerian and a Chinese.

They had made their asylum applications earlier this year after US authorities signalled they were free to leave after seven years imprisonment if they found a safe haven. Amnesty International said it would appeal against the decision.

US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the prison camp after he takes office in January. There are about 250 detainees at Guantanamo, which was set up in January 2002 to hold terrorism suspects captured after the September 11 attacks on the United States by al-Qaida militants. Most have been held for years without being charged and many of the prisoners have complained of abuse.


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