State accepts two Uzbek detainees from Guantánamo

 

IRELAND HAS agreed to accept two Uzbek detainees at the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba for resettlement in Ireland.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said the Government had told US authorities that it would accept two detainees, and two Uzbek nationals had been identified by the US for patriation to Ireland.

“The US authorities have identified two people from Uzbek who have been in Guantánamo for some time. There has been a campaign in relation to one of them, his advocates believe he was completely wrongly brought to Guantánamo and we are currently examining those,” said Mr Martin.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs could not name the individuals or say when they might arrive other than to say he expected they would be transported here “when the prison closes or when they are released”.

Amnesty International welcomed the announcement but also could not provide information about who the two were.

A spokesman however said it was thought one may be Oybek Jabbarov (31).

“He is one we suggested to the Department of Foreign Affairs and whose case they would certainly be very thoroughly aware of. He has also expressed a preference for Ireland as he comes from a rural background and speaks fluent English,” said the spokesman.

In testimony given to the US House of Representatives’ House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Subcommittee on International Organisations, Human Rights, and Oversight on May 6th, 2008, Mr Jabbarov’s lawyer said his client had been living with his elderly mother and pregnant wife with other Uzbek refugees in northern Afghanistan in 2001 when fighting broke out between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance.

He had not been involved in the conflict, according to the testimony.

“He accepted a ride from a group of Northern Alliance soldiers he met at a roadside teahouse who said they would give him a ride to Mazar-e-Sharif.

“Unfortunately, instead of driving him to Mazar-e-Sharif, the soldiers took Oybek to Bagram air base where they handed him over to US forces, undoubtedly in exchange for a sizeable bounty.”

Mr Jabbarov was transferred to Guantánamo and has spent eight years there.

Executive director of Amnesty International, Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, has called on the department to allow Mr Jabbarov come to Ireland after his release and for his wife and two children to be allowed to join him.