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British officials visit Cuba base

The British government has expressed concern at the prisoners' treatment
The British government has expressed concern at the prisoners' treatment  

LONDON, England -- British officials are at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where three Britons are among detainees being held by the United States, the UK Foreign Office said on Friday.

The Foreign Office gave no further details, but British officials have expressed concerns about the treatment of the three Britons, which the United States transferred to Guantanamo from Afghanistan.

The spokesman told the Associated Press that the team was in the process of visiting the suspects.

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Red Cross visits Camp X-Ray amid accusations U.S. is mistreating detainees. CNN's Bob Franken reports (January 18)

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"They are going about their task that has been set for them, identifying those who claim to be British citizens and reporting on the welfare of those who claim to be British citizens and assisting the U.S. authorities with legal inquiries into the terrorist atrocities," the spokesman told AP.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tony Blair's 10 Downing Street office confirmed the officials were on their way but would not say how many were in the delegation or where they were travelling from. The Foreign Office said the visit was likely to last a few days.

Three people claiming to be British are among more than 100 prisoners taken from Afghanistan to the U.S. military's Caribbean outpost.

Human rights groups and some British politicians have accused the U.S. of ignoring international law in its treatment of the prisoners, whom it calls "unlawful combatants" rather than prisoners of war.

The prisoners are kept in open-air cells that have been called "cages" by critics.

U.S. officials say the detainees are being treated humanely. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the handling of the prisoners was "reasonably consistent" with the Geneva Convention.

Blair has said the prisoners are "very dangerous people," but said they must treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

The temporary detention centre, dubbed Camp X-ray, on the eastern tip of Cuba, can hold 200 inmates but will be expanded to hold more than 600 while builders complete a permanent facility that can hold 2,000 detainees.


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