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Viewing cable 09BRUSSELS269, GUANTANAMO: AMBASSADOR WILLIAMSON CONFERS WITH EU

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BRUSSELS269 2009-02-25 18:06 2010-11-30 17:05 CONFIDENTIAL USEU Brussels
VZCZCXRO2517
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHBS #0269/01 0561846
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251846Z FEB 09
FM USEU BRUSSELS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BRUSSELS 000269 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR S/WCI, S/CT, EUR/ERA, INL, INL/PC, INL/AAE, L/LEI 
DRL/MLGA 
NSC FOR KVIEN 
DOD FOR OSD/OFFICE OF DETAINEE AFFAIRS 
JUSTICE FOR CRIMINAL DIVISION, OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL 
AFFAIRS 
HOMELAND SECURITY FOR OFFICES OF POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL 
AFFAIRS 

EO 12958 DECL: 02/18/2019 
TAGS PREL, KAWK, KISL, PTER, EUN 
SUBJECT: GUANTANAMO: AMBASSADOR WILLIAMSON CONFERS WITH EU 
OFFICIALS
REF: A. BRUSSELS 120  B. BRUSSELS 159  C. BRUSSELS 268

Classified By: USEU Political M-C Chris Davis for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: S/WCI Ambassador Clint Williamson and European Union (EU) Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove discussed de Kerchove’s upcoming whitepaper for the EU Council on detainee issues and its relevance for developing a common EU position on the topic. The two also spoke about which governments are open to accepting detainees and how, if possible, to mitigate member state concerns regarding detainees’ freedom of movement in the Schengen zone. De Kerchove is in favor of an EU blessing of bilateral negotiations between member states and the US on detainee transfers, and said there is an EU precedent for placing travel restrictions on residency permit holders (one possible solution to Schengen concerns).

2. (C) Williamson also met with the EU Parliamentarians responsible for the now ratified EU Joint Resolution on Guantanamo, congratulating them on receiving support from across the political spectrum. Separately, the Ambassador sat down with Riina Kionka, Javier Solana’s Personal Representative for Human Rights. She suggested a stronger public information campaign on the nature of the detainees at Guantanamo, and expressed concern that EU Member States were under intense Chinese pressure not to accept Uighur detainees. END SUMMARY.

---------------------------- 
De Kerchove’s EU Perspective
---------------------------- 
3. (C) On his tenth day of travels within the EU, Ambassador Williamson met in Brussels February 17 with EU Counterterrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. The C/T Coordinator briefly discussed his upcoming whitepaper on detainee issues, which was tasked to him by the EU Council. It will include 15 “non-controversial” principles to guide EU consensus building, as well as lessons learned from the Church of the Nativity resettlement (ref A), information on previous U.S. policies and the new executive order, and potential resettlement options outside and within the EU. Ambassador Williamson provided general information on the number of released detainees who had reengaged in terrorism, as well as the distinction between “cleared for release” and “cleared for transfer” designations by the USG.

4. (C) On forming an EU position, De Kerchove indicated that a favorable scenario would be a consensus agreement allowing individual members to accept detainees, provided transfers are not forced on any unwilling EU member. Williamson noted that the Czechs, in their capacity as EU president, were committed to developing this consensus position. The two then went on to discuss concerns over former detainees’ freedom of movement in the Schengen zone. Williamson stated that it is a common concern among EU members, and floated the possibility of former detainees having restrictions placed on their travel, a stipulation that some of the detainees and their lawyers have consented to in principle. De Kerchove replied that a precedent existed for such restrictions, which he felt could help mitigate Schengen concerns of member states, though they would be difficult to enforce in practice. The Ambassador cited the February 26, 2009 Justice and Home Affairs Informal Meeting as an important near-term milestone in building momentum towards an EU position. De Kerchove was of the opinion that it was a bit early to expect an official position given the complex nature of the issue. He had hoped discussions would occur first among ambassadors within the Committee of Permanent Representatives, however the Czech Presidency insisted on moving forward with discussions among Justice and Interior Ministers.

5. (C) Conversation then shifted to the USG process moving forward. Williamson described two parallel U.S. review processes; (1) review of the files of all 242 detainees at
BRUSSELS 00000269 002 OF 003
Guantanamo, and (2) review of policies involving detention, Guantanamo, and related issues. Files must be collected from multiple departments, agencies, and locations for review by an interagency team, including DOJ prosecutors and representatives from the State, Defense, and Homeland Security departments, as well as the intelligence agencies. The U.S. will prioritize cases of detainees being considered for resettlement by EU governments.

6. (C) Williamson and De Kerchove agreed to consult further after the February 26 JHA Informal meeting and before anticipated travel by JHA Commissioner Jacques Barrot, Czech Interior Minister Langer, and De Kerchove to Washington in mid March.

------------------------- 
“We need better pictures”
------------------------- 
7. (C) During a subsequent meeting on February 17 with Riina Kionka, High Representative Javier Solana’s Personal Representative for Human Rights, Ambassador Williamson briefed on the process called for by the President’s recent executive orders on closure of Guantanamo detention facilities, and exchanged views on the state of play regarding EU-level efforts on acceptance of Guantanamo detainees.

8. (C) While emphasizing that EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove had the lead on this issue, Kionka raised a few specific concerns and ideas. She told us that Member States have been under intense pressure from China not to accept Uighurs, and that some are concerned about possible repercussions in bilateral and EU-level relations with China if they accept detainees. She acknowledged that this pressure was not unusual from China, but did not know if it would affect Member State decision-making.

9. (C) Kionka also highlighted the gap between public perceptions of the kinds of detaines at Guantanamo and the reality that many ar very low risk. She felt that this was a message the U.S. had to carry, and urged the administration to “plainly” explain to Americans (and thus Europeans) that while some detainees are very dangerous, many of them do not pose a serious threat. Kionka also commented that whenever a European newspaper ran a story on Guantanamo, they ran the typical picture of a hunched-over detainee in an orange jumpsuit. She said that “we need better pictures” and urged us to turn the story around by showing low-risk detainees in a better light.

--------------------- 
Parliamentary support
--------------------- 
10. (C) Amb. Williamson hosted a lunch for three Members of the European Parliament (MEP) who were the principal authors of a recent resolution supporting U.S. efforts to close Guantanamo and EU efforts to assist with detainee resettlement. MEPs Ursula Gacek (EPP-ED, Poland), Baroness Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK), and Jan Marinus Wiersma (PSE, Netherlands) told us that the results of the vote (542 in favor, 55 abstaining, 51 opposed) show the broad bipartisan support that the EP has for European resettlement efforts. They said that it was difficult to craft a text that all parties could support, but that the EP felt it was important to express a “helpful” sentiment. Williamson expressed appreciation for their efforts in securing passage of the resolution and indicated that it sent a positive message to EU states considering resettlements.

11. (C) The MEPs were careful to point out that the support was not unqualified. Legal issues surrounding the admission of detainees into the Schengen Zone needed to be resolved to the satisfaction of Member States not accepting detainees, they said. MEP Ludford, known to be somewhat outspoken, drew criticism from her colleagues when she spoke of her personal opinion that Member States who participated in alleged CIA
BRUSSELS 00000269 003 OF 003
rendition operations to Guantanamo had a particular ethical responsibility to accept detainees if it would contribute to the closure of the facility. She noted that the EP would adopt a resolution on CIA flights at that week’s plenary session.

12. (U) Ambassador Williamson has cleared on this telegram.
MURRAY .