Two former detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison who were resettled in El Salvador as refugees have disappeared from the Central American country.
A spokesman for the U.S. special envoy working to close the prison on the U.S. base in Cuba, Ian Moss, confirmed that two men, ethnic Uighurs from western China, have left El Salvador but declined to say why they chose to leave or where they are now.
“We are aware that the two Uighurs who were resettled in El Salvador departed the country. However, we will not comment on the specifics of their decision to resettle elsewhere or their current whereabouts,” he said.
The men moved to El Salvador in April 2012 after nearly a decade without being charged at Guantanamo. They were among 17 Uighurs who the U.S. determined had no links to terrorism and a court ordered their release. El Salvador was one of several countries to accept Uighurs as refugees.
According to McClatchy news service, the two men, Abdul Razak and Ahmad Muhamman, were among 22 ethnic Uighurs sent to the U.S. detention center in Cuba. Three Uighurs remain at the prison camp.
Uighurs, a Muslim ethnic minority from western China, don’t recognize the Chinese government, which has designated several Uighur separatist groups as "terrorist organizations" trained by Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Some Uighurs have engaged in a low-level separatist struggle since 1949 and even refuse to carry a Chinese passport.
McClatchy reports that it remains unknown what travel documents the two men would have used to leave El Salvador.
A spokeswoman for El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry, Irene Sanchez, told the news service that Razak and Muhamman were given refugee status but refused to say anything further, because her country “guarantees the right to privacy and confidentiality.”
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.