Guantanamo detainees may get visitors

2011-05-12 11:02
Washington - The United States could allow relatives of detainees at its "war on terror" prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, visit them in an unprecedented policy shift, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The change would mark an "unprecedented step to ease the isolation of inmates who in some cases have been held at the US facility for close to a decade", said the report which cited unnamed congressional aides.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors conditions and has helped organise video conferences between detainees and their kin, "has been in serious discussions with the Pentagon about a visitation programme", the report said citing the aides.

The Guantanamo Bay camp, located on the US naval base in southeastern Cuba, was opened by former President George W Bush in 2002.

Among the Guantanamo detainees are September 11 2001 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of planning the attacks that killed close to 3 000 people, mostly in New York.

Also held at Guantanamo is Al-Qaeda's third-ranking member, Abu Faraj al-Libi, who was arrested in 2005, and Ali Hamza Ahmad al-Bahlu, who is accused of being the terrorist group's chief propagandist.

The most prominent or "high value" detainees of the 172 remaining in detention in Guantanamo "would almost certainly not be allowed to participate in any family visit programme", the report added.

More than half of the 172 Guantanamo Bay detainees have been cleared to leave by the Obama administration, but the United States has not yet found a country to accept them, or does not believe there are adequate human rights guarantees in countries where they have been accepted.

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