[JURIST] Albania is willing to accept [press release] additional Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees, Prime Minister Sali Berisha [official website] told reporters on Wednesday, calling closure of the prison a "human rights issue." Berisha said [Balkan Insight report] that he will not accept Chinese Uighurs [JURIST news archive] due to concerns for preserving positive relations with China:
Naturally, I have said that we can not accept Yughurs, because of already known reasons, I am transparent and open, relations with China are of special importance for Albania. China is a friendly country, and relations with it can not become complicated. In the first case, everything was cleared, and it will not be repeated.
Albania has accepted nine former Guantanamo detainees since 2006, including five Uighurs.
Of the 17 Uighurs were initially detained at Guantanamo Bay after being captured in Afghanistan, seven remain at the facility. Recently, six Uighurs were transferred [JURIST report] to the Republic of Palau [CIA backgrounder]. Four of the Uighurs were transferred to Bermuda [JURIST report] even though Palau President Johnson Toribiong had expressed a willingness to accept [JURIST report] all of the Chinese Muslims held at the detention facility. The Chinese government has repeatedly demanded the repatriation of the Uighurs, maintaining that they are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) [CFR backgrounder], a militant group that calls for separation from China and has been a US-designated terrorist group since 2002.