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Berkeley Considers Inviting Guantanamo Detainees

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Berkeley officials are considering inviting Guantanamo detainees to live in the city.

The City Council is scheduled to vote next week on a resolution that would extend a formal invitation to any detainees at the U.S. naval base who have been cleared of wrongdoing. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city is eyeing two detainees - Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian chef, and Ravil Mingazov, a Russian ballet dancer.

Mingazov moved from Russia to Afghanistan and then Pakistan to escape harassment from the KGB, the former Russian secret police and intelligence agency, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. He was captured in Pakistan.

Ameziane worked at an upscale Italian restaurant in Austria. He was denied asylum in Canada after his work visa expired and moved to Afghanistan feeling he had nowhere else to go, the Center for Constitutional Rights said. He was captured while crossing into Pakistan in 2002.

Both men are still at Guantanamo. Congress currently restricts the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the United States.

"As a municipality, this is one thing we can do to right some wrongs of our federal government," said Wendy Kenin, chairwoman of the city's Peace and Justice Commission, which crafted the resolution.

Berkeley would not spend any money from its general fund on the effort. The detainees would live with local families, and nonprofits would help them find work and adjust to the area.

Detainees have been held at Guantanamo for years without charges. Some have claimed they were tortured.

The city of Amherst, Mass. approved a similar resolution in 2009 that invited two detainees, including Mingazov, to live there, but they were not released.

"This seems like grandstanding to me," said Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak.

City Manager Phil Kamlarz is advising the council not to take any action on Guantanamo detainees.


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,