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Germany

Former Guantanamo prisoners will undergo testing in Germany

Two former inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp being taken in by Germany will spend time in confinement for psychological assessment, says the interior minister of one of the host states.

Barbed wire at the Guantanamo Bay detention center

The men will be released after nearly a decade behind bars

The interior minister of Rhineland-Palatinate state has defended his government's decision to accept one of two former prisoners of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, saying the men would undergo thorough psychological evaluation and temporary confinement upon their arrival.

"We understand their familial circumstances, and we know they have nothing to do with terrorism," Karl Peter Bruch said, stressing that neither man posed any public risk.

Bruch said that the man his state was accepting would spend at least one year at the yet-to-be-named closed facility.

A working group is meeting Monday to discuss the terms of admission for the two former terrorism suspects, the second of whom is to be relocated to the city-state of Hamburg. The pair are expected to arrive sometime in September.

With question marks remaining over their psychological state, the men will undergo observation by doctors and social workers. They are also to receive German language lessons during their confinement.

A spokesperson for the Hamburg Interior Ministry, Frank Reschreiter, said the former prisoners - a Palestinian and a Syrian - deserved unprejudiced treatment upon their arrival in Germany. "They need psychological care, not shackles," he said.

Controversial move

Rhineland-Palatinate Interior Minister Karl Peter Bruch

Bruch said the men deserved a second chance

The men will come to Germany after spending nearly nine years at the infamous US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The decision to take in the pair was greeted angrily in certain quarters around Germany, with some opposition politicians and police unions arguing it could make the country, particularly Hamburg, a target for future terrorist attacks.

Bruch sought again to defend the decision to accept the men: "If we are to criticize the Guantanamo facility, then we must also face up to what will happen with the prisoners after it closes," he said.

Since the beginning of the US-led war in Afghanistan in 2001, 775 detainees were taken to Guantanamo, also known as Gitmo. Of these, most were released without charge. The prison still holds 180 detainees, with around one third awaiting trial.

During his election campaign, President Barack Obama pledged to close the controversial camp, which has been heavily criticized by human rights groups and many governments.

Author: Darren Mara (AFP/AP)
Editor: Rob Turner

DW.DE