MADRID (AP) - Spain took in an inmate from Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday, the first of up to five the government is willing to host as it tries to help President Barack Obama's flagging effort to close the U.S. prison for terror suspects.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba told reporters the man is Palestinian, but would not give his name or any other information, citing privacy concerns. He reiterated that Spain will take in as many as five inmates from Guantanamo, the largest commitment yet from a European country.
"We do not want to give more details simply because our aim is for those who come to Spain to be able to live their lives," Rubalcaba said.
The minister said the Palestinian met a key condition, which is that he not have charges pending in the United States, Europe or the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian will be able to work in Spain and move around the country freely, but cannot leave it.
Rubalcaba said Spain is still studying case files on other candidates for coming to Spain from the U.S. naval base in Cuba.
Other European countries that have agreed to take in Guantanamo inmates include France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. Most have agreed to take in one or two, or three at most.
Obama had pledged to close the Guantanamo prison in January but missed that deadline.
His special envoy for this task, Daniel Fried, met with Spanish officials in Madrid in June and asked Spain to take in four prisoners. From the outset Spain was receptive, and over the course of later contacts with the Americans, the Spanish apparently agreed to consider taking in as many as five.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been eager to establish good ties with the United States and Obama, after angering then-president George Bush in April 2004 by withdrawing Spanish peacekeepers from Iraq.
Zapatero has also agreed to send more Spanish troops to Afghanistan in response to a plea from Obama for more allied help in fighting the Taliban.