OTTAWA, June 5 (UPI) -- The Canadian government has rejected a U.S. request to accept 17 Chinese Muslims detained at the Guantanamo Bay terror prison camp in Cuba.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters Thursday night in Ottawa the 17 men held without charges for more than seven years wouldn't be coming to Canada.
"There are security concerns related to Guantanamo detainees," Kory Teneycke said. "There really is no rationale for accepting them into the country."
Teneycke said it wasn't the first time Washington asked for Canada to help with detainees, the Canwest News Service said.
"We had a previous request from the Bush administration as well," he said. "But given that these detainees have no link with Canada ... I do not see our policy changing."
The prisoners are Uighers (pronounced WEE-gurs) who claim they will be tortured if they are returned to China. They were arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 for allegedly supporting al-Qaida terrorists.
The Uighers want an autonomous Muslim state in northwestern China, and Beijing warned in February any country that took them in would be seen as harboring terrorists, the Toronto Star reported.