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Uruguay Says Resettled Guantanamo Men Can Leave When They Want

Outgoing Uruguayan President José Mujica has made clear that Uruguay would not hold or restrict the six Guantanamo detainees who were recently resettled in his country.

"The first day that they want to leave, they can leave," said Mujica in a Spanish-language interview with state television TNU.

The release of four Syrians, a Tunisian and a Palestinian on Saturday represented the largest single group to leave Guantanamo since 2009, according to U.S. officials.

In the interview Mujica -- a former leftist guerrilla who was jailed during Uruguay's 1973-1985 military dictatorship -- said Guantanamo "was not a jail, it's a kidnapping den," adding that a jail suggests a "minimum of jurisdiction."

A U.S. official said Uruguay agreed to "security arrangements" and that the six would be "free men," though declined to say whether they would be allowed to travel abroad.

Uruguay's president-elect Tabaré Vazquez, who takes office on March 1, said he also supports hosting the men as a humanitarian gesture.

The Uruguayan newspaper El País reported and published a letter one of the Syrian detainees, Omar Mahmoud Faraj, sent through is attorney thanking Uruguay for engaging in a "noble act of solidarity."

"If it weren't for Uruguay I would still be in that black hole in Cuba," the letter says. "We will only bring good faith and positive contributions to Uruguay while we learn Spanish and remake our lives here."

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--Sandra Lilley(Reuters contributed to this report.)