The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced Tuesday that three Uighur Muslim detainees were transferred [press release] to Slovakia from the Guantanamo Bay military prison. The detainees, Yusef Abbas, Saidullah Khalik and Hajiakbar Abdul Ghuper, were the last three members of the Chinese ethnic minority being held at the facility since their 2001 capture in Pakistan. US District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina declared [JURIST report] in 2008 that the detention of the Uighurs was unlawful, though the US has delayed their release to find a country that would accept them. Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby called the transfer "a significant milestone in our effort to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay."
The three detainees were the last of the 22 Uighurs to be released from Guantanamo since the 2008 ruling. Two were released to El Salvador in April 2012. Two others were transferred to Switzerland in March 2010, six were transferred to Palau in November 2009, four were transferred to Bermuda in June 2009, and Albania agreed to accept [JURIST reports] five in May 2006. The Chinese government has repeatedly called [JURIST report] for the detainees to be repatriated to face charges that they are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] (ETIM), considered a terrorist group seeking separation from China.