Canada denies it ready to take Guantanamo Uighurs

Wed Feb 4, 2009 1:12pm EST
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada on Wednesday denied a newspaper report that it was close to accepting three Muslims from China's Uighur minority who are imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba but have been cleared for release.

A total of 17 Uighurs are in the prison. Although no longer considered "enemy combatants," they are still at Guantanamo because the United States has been unable to find a country willing to take them.

The Globe and Mail said Uighur human rights activist Mehmet Tohti met with senior government officials -- including Immigration Minister Jason Kenney -- on Jan 23 and urged them to accept the three men.

It quoted Tothi as saying "There was a positive consensus ... They were not against it".

Kenney's office said no deal was in the works.

"The reports that Canada is close to accepting three Uighur Guantanamo Bay detainees are false," said Kenney spokesman Alykhan Velshi.

"This particular meeting, which involved representatives from different cultural communities, was to discuss consular issues, not resettling detainees from Guantanamo Bay."

U.S. President Barack Obama -- who will visit Canada on February 19 -- wants Guantanamo closed within a year.   Continued...

<p>Razorwire-topped fences are seen at the "Camp Six" detention facility at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay December 10, 2008, in this file photo reviewed by the U.S. military. Canada could accept three Chinese Moslem Uighur men who are imprisoned at the facility in Cuba but have been cleared for release, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Wednesday. REUTERS/Mandel Ngan/Pool</p>