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Briton among Afghan war detainees

The detainees arrive in Cuba
The detainees arrive in Cuba  


GUANTANAMO, Cuba -- The UK Foreign Office is working to identify a British national who U.S. officials said was among 20 Afghan war detainees transferred to Cuba.

The detainees are said to have spent a "calm and peaceful" first night in their 6-foot by 8-foot chainlink cells on the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba .

"We can confirm that the U.S. authorities have informed us that one UK national has been transferred to Guantanamo," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

"At present we are trying to ascertain his identity." The office has not revealed the man's name.

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Captured al Qaeda and Taliban fighters are expected to be held at the U.S. base in Guantanamo, Cuba. CNN's Bob Franken reports (January 11)

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U.S. officials have assured the British authorities that all the detainees will be treated in accordance with international law, the spokesman said. A number of Britons were believed to have been fighting on behalf of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The British detainee sent to Cuba does not appear to have a direct connection to the London mosque associated with Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, the alleged shoe bomber. Some detainees in Afghanistan, however, admit to knowing Reid.

Army Terry Carrico, head of security for the Camp X-ray detention centre, said on Saturday the inmates were "very fatigued."

"Last night was very peaceful, I would say it was calm and peaceful," he said. "Once we issued comfort items and got them in their individual units, they were prone, sleeping."

The base is planning to eventually hold 2,000 al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners and is expecting to receive a total of 100 within the next few days.

A U.S. military spokesman said the International Red Cross and the Red Crescent charity would have access to the prisoners "to verify to the world that they are being treated as humanely as possible under the circumstances."

Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary, said the men were not prisoners of war but "unlawful combatants," and therefore had no rights under the Geneva Convention.

The Guantanamo base, 45 square miles of barren land on the edge of cliffs high above the ocean, is a secure and remote facility on the southeastern end of the island of Cuba. More than 3,000 U.S. military service members, civilians and their families live at the base.

The United States wrested Guantanamo Bay -- discovered by Europeans in 1494 -- from the Spanish during the Spanish-American War of 1898, and established a base there. In 1903, the United States leased the land from the Republic of Cuba.

Under the agreement now in effect, the U.S. can retain possession as long as it pays the annual rent.



 
 
 
 


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