Secret US diplomatic cables obtained by Wikileaks reveal that the Maldives agreed to resettle detainees from Guantanamo Bay in return for American help with obtaining assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to the New York Times.
The paper reports that the cache of correspondence made public by Wikileaks reveals that “American diplomats went looking for countries that were not only willing to take in former prisoners but also could be trusted to keep them under close watch.
“In a global bazaar of sorts, the American officials sweet-talked and haggled with their foreign counterparts in an effort to resettle the detainees who had been cleared for release but could not be repatriated for fear of mistreatment.
It reveals that while the Bush Administration offered the South Pacific nation Kiribati an “incentive package” of US$3 million to take 17 Chinese Muslim detainees, “the Maldives tied acceptance of prisoners to American help in obtaining International Monetary Fund assistance.”
The EU observer meanwhile reported that Washington’s special envoy on Guantanamo resettlements, Daniel Fried, told ”politicians in the Maldives that other states had received US$25,000 to US$85,000 per detainee to cover temporary living expenses and other costs” and that ”the Maldives could expect something toward the upper end of the range.”
In December last year, President Mohamed Nasheed announced that the Maldives had offered to resettle two detainees from Guantanamo Bay.
“If a Muslim does not have a place to live in freedom, we will help in whatever way we can. We don’t want anyone to suffer any harm,” Nasheed then said. “We know that the Maldives, in helping just three people from Guantanamo Bay, does not mean that either the Maldives or the world would be free of inhumane treatment,” he said. “However this jail, Guantanamo jail, is very symbolic.”
Nasheed said at the time that as a result of resettling the detainees “the country will get a good name, honour and prestige. We will be noted as people who help in whatever capacity we can to help solve others’ problems.”
The decision was met with fierce opposition from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party-People’s Alliance coalition in parliament, which conducted national security committee hearings on the subject.
Foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed told Minivan News at the time that “the United States has not come with a bag full of money and said: ‘here’s your reward for doing this’, but because we work with the US on this and other issues, they will try to help us where we need help.”
He added that the decision was not made on a ”quid pro quo basis”.