The verdict from Washington — Senior Senator Patrick Leahy: ‘We should offer our sincere thanks to Bermuda’. *MCT photo
The verdict from Washington — Senior Senator Patrick Leahy: ‘We should offer our sincere thanks to Bermuda’. *MCT photo
Bermuda has received more glowing praise from the States for accepting the four Guantanamo refugees.

Senior Senator Patrick Leahy said in a statement to the U.S. Senate that the Bermudian people and Premier Ewart Brown "have done a humanitarian service, and should be praised for it."

The statement is the latest sign that Bermuda's gesture has helped win powerful friends across the Atlantic - at a time when the island desperately needs the goodwill of the U.S. in order to escape censure as a 'tax-haven'.

Earlier this week, Premier Ewart Brown received a letter from influential Congressman Bill Delahunt, who praised Dr. Brown for his "political courage" and "humanitarian decency." President Obama himself also told reporters in Italy that Bermuda had done "a great service" by taking the four refugees.

Mr. Leahy, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary, said in his statement to the Senate: "Madam President, last Thursday Bermuda welcomed to freedom four men who had been wrongly detained at Guantanamo Bay for more than seven years.

"The men are ethnic Uighurs-a minority group from western China that has long suffered discrimination and oppression by China's Government.

"Their release is welcome news-our own Federal courts had cleared them for release, as did both the Bush and Obama administrations. Bermudian [Premier] Dr. Ewart Brown and the Bermudian people have done a humanitarian service, and should be praised for it.‪

"I strongly support President Obama's decision to close Guantanamo, which became a rallying cry for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups seeking recruits.

"I am disappointed that the United States did not find a way to resettle the Uighurs here, as there are Uighur communities in several states that would have welcomed them and helped them become productive members of society. "It would also have been an important gesture to other countries that we are asking to accept Guantanamo detainees. All the more reason that we should offer our sincere thanks to Bermuda for helping to put this sorry episode behind us."

Bermuda will be hosting a visit by Mr. Delahunt; the congressman, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight Subcommittee, arrives today and will meet with Bermuda Government officials and the Governor, Sir Richard Gozney.

No further official details about the visit have been released, but Sir Richard said this week that the U.K., U.K. and Bermuda are involved in discussions to "consider carefully their next steps."

Sir Richard ruled out the option that the men be returned to Guantanamo, and their extradition to China is also ruled out. Sir Richard said there are "other options," but declined to say what they are.