Uighur Brothers at Gitmo Arrive in Switzerland

The sad saga of the Uighur brothers held at Guantanamo has come to an end. They arrived in Switzerland today.

The two Uyghurs were neither charged with any crime nor condemned by the US authorities; today they are free again. They have expressly undertaken to respect the law in force and to learn the language spoken in their place of residence. They are also willing to take up a gainful employment and to provide for their basic needs.

Arkin Mahmud, 45 had been accepted months ago, but refused to leave without his brother Bahtiar, 32, who had become mentally ill while at Gitmo. Props to Switzerland for agreeing to take both. Only five Uighurs remain at Gitmo.

The U.S. sent three detainees to the Republic of Georgia yesterday. It did not provide information about them, but the lawyer for one of them today said two of the three are Libyans.[More...]

Two of the three men were Libyans, according to Chicago attorney H. Candace Gorman, who identified one of them as her client Abdel Hamid al Ghazzawi, 47, a Libyan married to an Afghan with one child, a daughter. He ran a small shop in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, she said, until shortly before the American invasion, when he was handed over to U.S. forces.

Georgia has said the men will not be detained, but won't be allowed to leave the country.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports today that Defense Secretary Robert Gates is appointing a new chief for military commission trials. He is retired Admiral Bruce MacDonald.

As convening authority, MacDonald--who replaces Susan Crawford, a Bush political appointee who retired two months ago--will have the responsibility to "refer" charges against Guantanamo terror suspects to trials after receiving recommendations from military prosecutors. Such "referrals"--the equivalent of indictments--have been on hold ever since last year when the White House ordered a halt to all military commission proceedings as part of its larger review about how to close Gitmo.

But now that "hold" is, for all intents and purposes, being lifted. Military prosecutors are actively working on as many as 50 cases of Gitmo detainees who can be referred for trial before the commissions, according to two commission sources.

Isikoff reports the first military commission trial is likely to be that of Canadian child-soldier Omar Khadr.

While no decision has been publicly announced about the 9/11 detainees, Isikoff says the writing is on the wall. One sign:

Robert L. Swann, one of the chief prosecutors of the original military commission case against the 9/11 co-conspirators, had been widely expected to leave the office after Holder announced his decision to transfer the 9/11 case to civilian court. Swann had spent years developing the military case against the defendants. But Swann is very much still on the job and working on cases, a commission spokesman said Tuesday.

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