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Detainees finally talk to families

  • Story Highlights
  • Red Cross sets up video calls for detainees at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan
  • Suspects at U.S. base can now speak to their families instead of using written notes
  • Families of detainees use system in Red Cross Kabul office to talk for 20 minutes
  • Base, north of Kabul, has up to 650 detainees, most with suspected ties to terrorism
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(CNN) -- Detainees at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan are talking to relatives for the first time in years after the Red Cross set up a system for video-conference calls, the agency said Monday.

Since the video chats began last week, 60 detainees at Bagram Air Base have talked to family members, spokeswoman Graziella Leite Piccolo of the International Committee of the Red Cross told CNN Monday.

Another 30 are expected to see and hear loved ones for the first time Monday, she said.

The air base at Bagram, located north of the city of Kabul, houses between 600 and 650 detainees. Most were picked up for suspected ties to terrorism.

Until now, detainees and their families communicated via written notes the Red Cross delivered.

But last week, the humanitarian organization -- with equipment supplied by the U.S. military -- set up a call center at Bagram and a similar center at its office in Kabul.

When families of Bagram detainees come to the Kabul office, they can see their loved ones on a video screen and talk to them for 20 minutes, Piccolo said.

"When they go inside (the call booth) they are often a bit nervous or serious. But suddenly when they see their loved ones, it really becomes quite emotional," Piccolo said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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