Guantánamo

Kazakhstan took in 5 Guantánamo captives as asylum seekers

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov, left, before a working lunch at the State Department in Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov, left, before a working lunch at the State Department in Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2014. AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The government of Kazakhstan said it accepted five cleared Guantánamo detainees from the Obama administration last month as asylum seekers.

The Pentagon sent the three Yemenis and two Tunisians from the base in southeast Cuba for resettlement in Kazakhstan on Dec. 30. But the Kazak Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website Monday that their asylum requests were still under review by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

It said Kazakhstan agreed to take the men, who had never been charged with a crime at Guantánamo, “for humanitarian reasons” based on their applications for refugee status through the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

It also said unnamed “international human rights organizations” were bearing the costs of taking in the men.

The transfer, which reduced Guantánamo’s detainee population to 127 war-on-terror captives, occurred about two weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry hosted Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov at the State Department with a working lunch.

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