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Archive for Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pentagon hands over listing of detainees

May 16, 2006

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— The Pentagon handed over on Monday the first list of everyone who has been held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - more than four years after the U.S. began using it as a detention center in its war on terror.

None of the most notorious terrorist suspects was included in the list delivered by the Pentagon to The Associated Press, raising questions about where America's most dangerous prisoners are being held.

The names of some 200 former prisoners have never been disclosed. Officials say 759 detainees have been held at the center since it opened. Of the total listed, more than a quarter - 218 - were Afghans. A total of 131 Saudis also passed through the prison gates at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, perched on an arid slope above the Caribbean.

More than half the detainees were 25-34 years old, while three were 18 or younger and at least nine were over 61.

The handover marks the first time that everyone who has been held by the Defense Department at Guantanamo has been identified, according to Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler, a Pentagon spokesman.

The names of all detainees held there were previously kept classified because of "the security operation as well as the intelligence operation that takes place down there," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

In a briefing in Washington, he did not explain why - if there was such a security risk - the Pentagon did not contest the AP's request for the release of the names, as it did with previous Freedom of Information Act requests for prisoner information. Just last month, the Pentagon released 558 names of current and former detainees to AP.

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