MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has criticized Western countries which accept former prisoners from the infamous U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for suspected terrorists as refugees, but continue to keep a close watch on them.
“The Western countries have received some Guantanamo prisoners, but look at them as an embarrassment and act as jailers; they keep them under vigilance for some time and then let them go,” Mujica said on Monday after attending an exhibition of products made by people deprived of liberty.
Last week, Uruguay accepted six Guantanamo prisoners – four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestine –, in the first such transfer from the U.S. prison to a South American country and the second to a Latin American nation.
The six inmates, who were never charged with a crime, were considered to be low risk cases by the United States and their transfer was authorized in 2010.
Mujica said that it would be an honorable move to do away with the prison, which he termed a “monstrous house” and a “kidnapping den.”
He also said that if the United States was like any other country, the existence of a prison like Guantanamo Bay would be a scandal for international organizations.
“It is a real shame for humanity because the people there do not have any judge, any public prosecutor, any legal process or any sentence,” he said.
“I was a prisoner for many years and I know certain things that people do not know,” said Mujica, who asked the media to leave the six former prisoners in peace.
On being asked about the histories of the former detainees, the president said that a certain amount of caution had to be exercised but that their stories would be disclosed at some point in the future.