In statement on Friday, the Pentagon said the men had been ferried to the eastern European country out of concern they would face persecution at home.

 

The men are ethnic Uighurs, who are from Xinjiang in far western China.

 

Many Muslim Uighurs seek greater autonomy for the region and some want independence from China.

 

Beijing has waged a relentless campaign against what it calls the violent separatist activities of the Uighurs.

 

"The United States has done the utmost to ensure that the Uighurs will be treated humanely upon release," the Pentagon’s statement said.

 

Key objective

 

"Our key objective has been to resettle the Uighurs in an environment that will permit them to rebuild their lives. Albania will provide this opportunity," the statement said.

 

The Pentagon said it had determined that the five men should not be considered "enemy combatants", the label it gives to hundreds of men detained at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

 

The US has denied those deemed "enemy combatants" rights normally accorded to prisoners of war.

 

Rights groups, such as Amnesty International, say that around 500 men, arrested and transferred to Guantanamo following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, remain held in a legal "black hole", many without access to any court, legal counsel or family visits.