In a surprise switch, the U.S. government Thursday said it sent four Muslim Uighurs from a prison camp at Guantanamo to resettlement in Bermuda not the remote Pacific island archipelago of Palau.
The U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia broke the news first, identifying the four men granted asylum in Bermuda as Abdulla Abduqadir, 30; Helil Mamut, 31; Ablikim Turahun, 38; and Salahidin Ablehet, 32.
A Boston office of the Bingham McCutchen law firm, which provided some of the Uighurs' legal defense services for years, free of charge, offered different identifications.
They named them as Huzaifa Parhat, Abdul Semet, Abdul Nasser and Jalal Jalaladin.
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A Department of Justice announcement offered no names.
On Wednesday, Obama administration officials signaled that they had reached agreement to move 17 Chinese citizens of the Muslim Uighur minority from the soon-to-close Pentagon prison camps in southeast Cuba to Palau.
Unclear Thursday was the fate of the remaining 13 Uighurs who were last seen earlier this month among the 17 at Camp Iguana, a razor-wire ringed half-acre prison camp at Guantanamo for prisoners that federal courts had ordered free.
"The Uighurs were living in a self-contained camp in Afghanistan when the U.S.-led bombing campaign began in October 2001 as part of the military action after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States," Radio Free Europe reported in an early morning news release. "They fled to the mountains but were turned over to Pakistani authorities, who then handed them over to the United States."
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