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Former Guantanamo Inmate Asks Argentina to Accept Prisoners

  • Reuters

FILE - Concertina wire is overgrown with foliage at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility for al-Qaida and Taliban militants who were captured after the Sept. 11 attacks at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

FILE - Concertina wire is overgrown with foliage at the now closed Camp X-Ray, which was used as the first detention facility for al-Qaida and Taliban militants who were captured after the Sept. 11 attacks at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

A former inmate of the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay traveled from his new home in Uruguay to neighboring Argentina in recent days to lobby the government to provide refuge to inmates still imprisoned in Cuba.

Jihad Diyab, one of six detainees released in December and resettled in the tiny South American country of Uruguay, told Argentine radio and other media he had come on behalf of prisoners who remain at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay.

"I will never forget my friends who are still there, and that's why I've come here, to struggle for justice," Diyab said on Argentine station Radio Madre.

"The government of Argentina could accept prisoners from Guantanamo for humanitarian reasons," the Syrian national added.

He did not say how long he would be in the country or who he would be meeting with. Argentina's interior and foreign ministries declined comment. Diyab's lawyer, Cori Crider of international rights group Reprieve, had no immediate comment.

While jailed, Diyab mounted a legal challenge against the U.S. military's force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantanamo.

He and five other former Guantanamo prisoners were flown to Uruguay in early December. The Uruguayan government said the six would be treated as "totally free men."

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said at the time the men — four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian — could leave whenever they wanted or stay as long as they pleased.

President Barack Obama's administration has sped up transfer of Guantanamo detainees in recent months but its efforts to shut the prison have been blocked by lawmakers who think the inmates pose a threat.

Obama promised to shut the detention facility, used to imprison people captured after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, when he first took office six years ago.

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