U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has praised Premier Ewart Brown's ­decision to accept four prisoners from Guantanamo Bay as a "courageous ­action".

She wrote to him to hail Bermuda's international leadership regarding the tricky issue of closing the U.S.-run terror prison in Cuba.

Her letter said: "I want to extend my sincerest thanks to you and the Bermudian government for resettling four Uyghur Guantanamo Bay detainees. I ­recognize the many difficulties associated with this humanitarian effort, both at home and abroad.

"I hope that your courageous action will inspire others to step forward and join us in the ongoing effort to close the ­Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre.

"Indeed, Bermuda's leadership significantly advanced that effort."

A judge had originally ordered that the Uyghurs be released on American soil.

But the decision was reversed after right-leaning politicians protested.

The U.S. has been trying to convince a number of other countries to take them ­instead. There are still 13 Uyghurs ­imprisoned at Guantanamo. The island of Palau, a nation in the Pacific Ocean around 500 miles east of the Philippines, has been mooted as a potential destination.

A host of leading U.S. political figures, including President Barack Obama and ­Attorney General Eric Holder, have praised Bermuda for taking in the four men.

Hypocrisy

But their words have sparking accusations of hypocrisy because the former ­detainees are still not allowed on ­American soil.

The praise for Bermuda's "humanitarian effort" has been almost universal.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reprieve and the Constitution ­Project are among the human rights ­organizations to have publicly praised the island.

"The international community has ­responded overwhelmingly in favour of Bermuda's humanitarian decision," said Premier Brown, who has faced a revolt at home over the way he made the deal in ­secret, with only Senator Colonel Burch kept in the loop.

"I am proud of the international leadership we have shown on this issue.

"Italy, Portugal and member states of the European Union have all announced plans to do as we have done in Bermuda.

"Clearly, being small does not mean we can not lead. On this issue, we have led."