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Archive for Friday, October 13, 2006

Red Cross meets with detainees

October 13, 2006

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— The Red Cross met at Guantanamo Bay with 14 newly arrived "high-value detainees" including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, spokesmen for the Red Cross and the Pentagon said Thursday.

The contacts this week were apparently the first time the 14 detainees have met with anyone other than their captors since they were arrested, held in CIA custody at secret locations and transferred weeks ago to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Among them are the alleged architects of the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole and the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

"We confirm they visited the 14. We were able to speak to them privately," said Simon Schorno, spokesman in Washington for the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Pentagon confirmed the Red Cross officials arrived Sept. 25 at Guantanamo Bay and met the 14 newest detainees this week.

Based on their discussions with detainees, the Red Cross officials would make recommendations privately to the U.S. government on their treatment, Schorno said. He did not give a time frame for when the recommendations would be delivered but stressed they would be confidential.

"The detainee is not forced to speak to us," Schorno said. "It is up to the detainee to raise any issues that fall within our concern, for example past detentions and current conditions. It's up to the detainee to address whatever he wants to address."

In addition, the Red Cross officials gave the detainees standard one-page forms to write letters to their family members, which - after going through U.S. military censorship - would be delivered by the Red Cross, Schorno said.

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