Guantanamo ex-prisoners get jobs on golf course
HAMILTON (Reuters) - Four Guantanamo prisoners who were released to Bermuda in June have been given jobs tending a public golf course on the tiny Atlantic island.
The four members of China's Muslim Uighur minority began working last week to help prepare the lush, seaside Port Royal course to host the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in October.
The hiring raised eyebrows in the British territory, where employers can only take on foreigners if no qualified local wants the job. Wendall Brown, chairman of the board of trustees for Bermuda's public golf courses, said the men replaced a group of Filipino workers who left at short notice.
"They have been offered a temporary position at Port Royal until the Grand Slam," he said. "There are still special projects that we need to do like cleaning up and beautifying the course ... All four of them have been given a job there. It's on a temporary basis. Two of them speak fairly good English."
Brown said the men were likely to still be working there during the two-day Grand Slam tournament, when golf's greatest champions of the year will be pitted against one another on the 18-hole course.
Port Royal head superintendent Steve Johnson said the Uighurs were doing well in their ground staff roles.
Their lawyer in Bermuda identified them as Khalil Mamut, Abilikim Turahun, Abdullah Abdulqadir and Salahidin Abdulahat, and said they had been known by a series of nicknames during the seven years they were held at the detention camp for suspected terrorists on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Their imprisonment continued long after the U.S. military and courts determined that they posed no threat. The United States said it could not send them to China because they faced persecution there, but U.S. politicians blocked plans to settle them in the United States.
The four landed on the 21-square-mile island on June 11 after Bermuda's premier, Ewart Brown, negotiated their resettlement directly with the United States. The move enraged the United Kingdom, which insisted the Bermuda government did not have the power to handle such foreign affairs and security matters.
Britain and the United States are still in talks about the men's future.
Expatriates make up a third of the work force in Bermuda, which has a population of 65,000 and requires permits to work. Brown said the golf course worked with immigration officials to get the men permission to work.
(Editing by Jane Sutton and Cynthia Osterman)
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