German interior officials said that the inmates from the Guantánamo Bay detention center whom the United States wants Germany to accept could pose a major security risk because they had spent time in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan. The United States has asked Germany to take 12 Chinese Uighurs, members of a Muslim minority located mostly in western China. The Uighurs have been persecuted by the Chinese authorities, according to human rights organizations, and American officials say they cannot be returned to China because they might be mistreated. But Uwe Schünemann, the conservative interior minister of the state of Lower Saxony, who along with the other 15 regional interior ministers must respond to the U.S. request, said that accepting the detainees was “not without danger.”
“The information we have is that the Uighurs we are being asked to accept were in terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and then they were sent to Guantánamo Bay,” Mr. Schünemann said. “We need much more information from the U.S. about these detainees before we are prepared to make any decision.” The regional interior ministers, as well as the federal interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, are scheduled to meet in a closed session Thursday in the north German city of Bremenhaven to discuss the issue. President Barack Obama will visit Germany on Friday. Germany’s reluctance reflects a general lack of enthusiasm across the European Union to accept detainees, even though its members have repeatedly called for Guantánamo to be closed. Mr. Obama, who has vowed to close the prison camp, has struggled to get help from his European allies and has met resistance at home as well. Congressional members of both parties have resisted his plan to relocate detainees to the United States, and Congress recently denied him the funds to shut down Guantánamo. Judy Dempsey reports.