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EU debates whether to take Gitmo prisoners

BRUSSELS, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The European Parliament Tuesday praised the U.S. decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison and debated whether European countries should take prisoners.

The European Union's legislative body has been highly critical of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba. The announcement of President Barack Obama's plan to close the camp drew praise from the European Parliament Tuesday.

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Obama has not formally asked the EU to assist in relocating prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. However, Alexander Vondra, Czech deputy prime minister for European affairs, said Tuesday that EU countries could "help in practice" as the United States makes decisions on what to do with the prisoner population, the European Parliament reported.

Vondra called for an evaluation of the political, legal and potential security concerns before making any decision on whether to accept Guantanamo prisoners in EU countries.

Despite the widespread EU popularity of the decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, Hartmut Nassauer, member of the European Parliament from Germany, said that allowing potential terrorists into EU countries could be dangerous.

"Should we therefore take them in for humanitarian reasons, irrespective of the charges laid at their door?" Nassauer asked in a statement.

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"They are potential terrorists, and we have a duty to protect our citizens. Torture, regrettably, happens around the world, but we have never said all those who have been tortured have a right to come to Europe. We must ensure potential terrorists do not step onto European territory."

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