Cablegate: Germany Renews Consideration of Guantanamo


DE RUEHRL #1548/01 3410728
P 070728Z DEC 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 001548



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2019

REF: A. STATE 50242

Classified By: Ambassador Philip D. Murphy for reasons 1.4 (b,d).

1. (C/NF) Summary: In separate December 1 meetings with
Ambassador Dan Fried, Special Envoy for Closure of the
Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility (S/GC), the Ministry of the
Interior, Foreign Ministry and Chancellery expressed a
willingness to consider seven new cases of Guantanamo
detainees for resettlement as well as three cases that had
already been provided to the former government last spring.
All interlocutors stressed that the MOI is the competent
ministry handling this issue. They also expressed the desire
to be helpful in the spirit of the strong U.S.-German
bilateral relationship. Interior Ministry State Secretary
Beus said that any decision on the cases would likely take up
to two months and agreed with S/E Fried on the following way

-- the Interior Ministry would be the only ministry
addressing this issue, especially in regard to sharing
information on the detainees;
-- the U.S. and Germany will uphold strict confidentiality
during this review phase and coordinate timing and content of
any public messages;
-- while Germany prefers non-Uighur cases because of expected
tension with China, it will consider the cases of two Uighurs
based on humanitarian grounds;
-- Germany prefers to accept detainees with a connection to
Germany, which S/E Fried explained to be the case with only
one detainee, a Tunisian whose file was previously provided;
-- the German MOI will maintain direct communication with
S/GC at this stage in the process;
-- Germany will decide on the need to interview any
candidates at the end of its review process.

In a later meeting, Chancellery Security Advisor Christoph
Heusgen stressed his confidence in Interior Minister Thomas
de Maiziere to handle this issue, noting de Maiziere's close
relationship with Chancellor Merkel. End summary.

Interior Ministry is Key

2. (C/NF) Based on a schedule recommended by the
Chancellery, S/E Fried and Ambassador Murphy met first with
Interior Ministry State Secretary Beus and expressed
appreciation for the new government's willingness to consider
resettling detainees. S/E Fried reviewed the numerous
European countries which had accepted or pledged to resettle
detainees at this point, noting that progress has been made
but more is needed. He noted he would only be passing along
detainee dossiers to the MOI and discussing case specifics
with the MOI, and not with other Government ministries, per
earlier requests from the government. S/E Fried handed over
the dossiers of seven detainees: two Egyptians, two Syrians,
a Libyan, and two Palestinians. He explained that if the MOI
has questions or requires additional information, it can do
so through established liaison channels and additionally
offered for a German team to visit Guantanamo to conduct
interviews with detainees under consideration. While
recognizing Germany's preference for non-Uighur detainees,
S/E Fried raised two Uighur cases for consideration based on
humanitarian grounds, one who has psychological problems and
the other, his brother, who serves as a caregiver. He also
acknowledged the German interest in detainees who have some
connection to Germany, noting the one Tunisian case whose
file had been conveyed last spring as the single detainee
with those ties to Germany. In total, S/E Fried requested
that Germany consider 10 detainee cases for resettlement,
three cases already conveyed and seven new cases.

3. (C/NF) State Secretary Beus expressed his ministry's
willingness to consider all the cases, including the Uighurs,
and said that his experts would review the files as soon as
possible. Shortly after he began, Interior Minister Thomas
de Maiziere dropped in to stress his desire to be of help.
Continuing, Beus underlined the importance of keeping the
current discussions and review of the detainees confidential,
to which S/E Fried strongly agreed. Beus underlined
Germany's preference for detainees who have some ties to
Germany, noting that this connection would provide the
government with a "plausible" explanation for accepting
certain detainees when faced with the argument that the U.S.
should be resettling them. Beus said that he would be
willing to consider the two Uighur cases on humanitarian
grounds, but noted that they would present special
difficulties because of the diplomatic row which would likely

ensue. Beus also highlighted that even if the federal
government agrees to accept any detainees, it must then find
a German state willing to accept them. He also said that
German services would naturally keep an eye on any resettle
detainees within reasonable resource means.

4. (C/NF) Beus also expressed strong interest in
coordinating the timing and content of any public message on
Germany's consideration of and decision on resettling
detainees to prevent political pressure from those who oppose
the move, but regardless the government will advocate in
public in favor of taking detainees if they come to a
positive decision. He added that being able to say to the
public that the U.S. has also accepted detainees or otherwise
explain why the U.S. is not doing so would also be helpful.
S/E Fried expressed his readiness to coordinate and noted
that the U.S. has admitted and plans to admit the more
dangerous detainees for legal proceedings.

Process and Timeframe

5. (C/NF) Beus said that he and his experts would review the
files and determine if additional information is needed. He
agreed that additional information would go through
intelligence channels and expressed his preference to
communicate directly with S/E Fried on any matters at this
stage of the process. He said that they would decide whether
interviews are necessary when the experts have completed
their review of the information. He estimated that a
decision on taking detainees would take one-to-two months.

MFA Plays Peripheral Role

6. (C/NF) It was clear from the later meeting with MFA State
Secretary Wolf Born that the Foreign Office would not be a
major decision-maker as on this issue. S/E Fried reviewed in
general terms the cases of detainees that we are asking the
MOI to consider and also highlighted the humanitarian nature
of the two Uighur cases, which Born noted. Born said that
Foreign Minister Westerwelle wants to be "positive," but
added that it is the MOI which is the "competent" ministry on
this issue. Born mainly asked questions about the numbers of
detainees still at Guantanamo, U.S. plans for addressing the
various groups, and the possible closing date, all of which
S/E Fried discussed with him.

Chancellery Confirms Reticence about Uighurs

7. (C/NF) In the last meeting, Chancellery Security and
Foreign Policy Advisor Christoph Heusgen expressed
appreciation that S/E Fried had proceeded along the lines
that the MOI and Chancellery had requested through Ambassador
Murphy. Heusgen appeared to be already fully briefed on S/E
Fried's earlier meeting that day with Beus. He told S/E
Fried that if Germany were to take any Uighurs, it would be
best to do so in combination with other European countries to
prevent China from focusing its opposition on any one
country. Heusgen was not optimistic that China would
demonstrate any understanding for the two humanitarian cases.
Heusgen inquired as to whether any alternatives for the
Uighurs exists. S/E Fried explained possible options, while
highlighting the difficulty of resettling the two individuals
he is asking Germany to consider.


8. (C/NF) The new government, now in place since October 29,
appears willing to renew consideration of resettling GTMO
detainees and has expressed a clear desire to be of help. In
contrast to former Interior Minister Schaeuble, current MOI
de Maiziere has not (and is unlikely to) flouted security
concerns about cases in the press, nor indicated that Germany
would be hardpressed to accept any detainees put forth for
security reasons. Nor has de Maiziere indicated that the
fact that the U.S. itself has not resettled detainees
presents an insurmountable roadblock, although Beus indicated
that U.S. resettlement would help Germany's PR efforts to
resettle. All interlocutors expressed a strong interest in
keeping the matter confidential and coordinating the timing
and content of any public message. Beus projected sincerity
and realism, noting that even if the federal government
agrees, it must still identify a state that is willing to
resettle the detainees. While all interlocutors did not
outright reject the two Uighur cases, Heusgen made clear that
the prospect of being the only European country to irritate
China by accepting Uighurs would make it difficult, although

it is unclear whether Germany would take part in any broader
European decision to resettle Uighurs.

9. (SBU) There has to date been no mention in the press of
S/E Fried's visit.

10. (U) This cable has been cleared by S/E Dan Fried.

© Scoop Media

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