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US releases six from Guantánamo Bay

Published:Tuesday | December 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Three doctors enter the military hospital in Montevideo, Uruguay, yesterday.

MONTEVIDEO (AP):Six prisoners held for 12 years at Guantánamo Bay began their new lives in Uruguay after the United States flew them to the South American country as refugees amid a renewed push by President Barack Obama to close the prison.

Uruguayan President José Mujica agreed to accept the men as a humanitarian gesture and said they would be given help getting established in a country of 3.3 million with a total Muslim population of perhaps 300 people.

The six men - four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian - were detained as suspected militants with ties to al-Qaeda in 2002 but were never charged. They had been cleared for release since 2009 but could not be sent home, and the United States struggled to find countries willing to take them.

Among those transferred was Abu Wa'el Dhiab, a 43-year-old Syrian on a long-term hunger strike protesting his confinement, who was at the centre of a legal battle in US courts over the military's use of force-feeding.