SLOVAKIA should extradite to China three Uighur people recently released from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay to Slovakia, as the country considers them terrorists and says they are dangerous, according to representatives of China’s Foreign Ministry.

The Slovak government, however, will not accept the request, the Sme daily reported in its January 3 issue.

The three men, identified by the Pentagon as Yusef Abbas, Hajiakbar Abdulghuper and Saidullah Khalik, are allegedly members of an Islamic movement in eastern Turkistan which Beijing considers a terrorist group, said spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Qin Gang.

“They are real terrorists,” Qin said, as reported by the SITA newswire. “They pose a threat not only for China, but also for the country which accepts them.”

Qin added that China hopes Slovakia will not grant them asylum and will send them to China as soon as possible. The Chinese Embassy to Slovakia said it hopes Slovakia will obey the request, Sme wrote.

Peter Lazarov from Slovak Interior Ministry however told Sme that Slovakia will not respond to the statements of Chinese representatives.

“Persons transported to Slovakia have neither been accused of nor prosecuted for terrorism, which was also confirmed by the US,” Lazarov said, as quoted by Sme.

Cooperation between the Slovak Republic and China is wide-ranging and does not hinge upon just one issue, reads the statement issued by the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry on January 2.

“We consider China to be a strategic partner with whom we plan to continue to develop mutually beneficial relations in all areas,” said ministry spokesperson Boris Gandel, as quoted by the TASR newswire, downplaying any suggestion that this issue could present a major obstacle in Slovak-Chinese relations.

The US Defence Department announced, as quoted by TASR, that the three detainees are the last Chinese-Uighur people released form Guantanamo. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Media Operations John Kirby thanked Slovakia for the humanitarian gesture and for the willingness to support US efforts to close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, according to TASR. US Ambassador to Slovakia Theodore Sedgwick also praised the step and its role in closing the Guantanamo Bay facility.

The three prisoners were arrested in 2001 during the US invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks and were detained at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The US authorities have refused to send them to China due to fears that they could be tortured, TASR wrote.

Source: Sme, SITA, TASR

For more information about this story please see: Three more former Guantanamo Bay prisoners moved to Slovakia

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.