Beijing says it firmly opposes a U.S. decision to send three members of an ethnic minority from China who had been held at Guantanamo Bay to the Central European country of Slovakia.

Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that Beijing had sought the repatriation of the Uighur men, who are considered by Chinese authorities to be terrorist suspects.

Qin said the men "pose threats not only to China's state security, but also the security of the country that receives them."

The U.S. said earlier this week it released the men to Slovakia.

The men were captured in 2001 after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and kept at the U.S. base of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. U.S. authorities didn't turn them over to Beijing on fear they could be tortured.