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Brazil resisted Guantanamo pressure
Leaked cables reveal Brazil repeatedly rebuffed US attempts to get it to take in Guantanamo detainees.
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2010 20:00 GMT
Leaked cables highlight the difficulties US has had in convincing other countries to take in Guantanamo detainees [EPA]

Brazil repeatedly rebuffed US pressure to take detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba, according to confidential US cables revealed by the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website.

The first two cables from the US embassy in Brasilia, which were published on Friday, were extracts only from confidential messages, dated from May and October in 2005 and the third full cable, designated unclassified, was from October 2009.

Each spoke of US efforts to get the Brazilian government to take in inmates from Guantanamo after 2003 - each time met with a negative response.

The Brazilian government "still contends that it cannot accept Guantanamo migrants because it is illegal to designate someone not on Brazilian soil a refugee," the first communication said.

It quoted Luis Varese, a Brazilian representative for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who also had a position on Brazil's National Committee for Refugees, saying the Latin American nation could only take in refugees recognised as such by the host country.

'Unlawful combatants'

In the case of Guantanamo, a US military base, the host country was the United States - but US policy was to treat the detainees there as "unlawful combatants" being held in a legal limbo.

If the US did decide to classify the detainees as "refugees," Brazil's position would be that the US would be responsible for taking them in as such, Varese said.

Other cables showed the US offered incentives - including money - to encourage nations to take in prisoners [EPA]

The second communication repeated the same information, saying Brazil was still refusing despite the "urgency" of the US request.

It also said a specific request had been made for Brazil to take in Uighurs - ethnic Chinese Muslims - from Guantanamo, but "it does not appear that the government of Brazil will accept Uighurs detainees if they are not granted refugee status by the US government.

"And, even if the Uighurs were granted such status by the US, we expect the Brazilians would argue that they should then be resettled in the US."

The last cable said a renewed attempt was made in 2009, this time "with regard to resettling Cubans in Brazil," but the response was again negative.

The leaked cables highlighted the difficulties the US has had in convincing other countries to take in Guantanamo detainees with a view to closing the facility as a prison.

Barack Obama, the US president, had taken up that challenge after worldwide criticism of the controversial Guantanamo detention facility as a negative symbol of the US.

Other cables showed the United States offered incentives - including money and meetings with Obama  - to encourage countries to take in the prisoners.

The Guantanamo detention facility was opened in 2002 and currently holds more than 150 prisoners taken in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Source:
Agencies
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