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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 18:37 GMT
Isolation in Camp X-Ray
Inmates face Mecca to pray
Detainees have no contact with the outside world
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By Paul Welsh and Gordon Corera
In Guantanamo Bay

"Can somebody know about us, can you tell the world about us?" shouted one of the 300 al-Qaeda and Taleban detainees being held at Camp X-Ray.

"We are innocent here in this camp. We've got no legal rights - nothing".

We have been on hunger-strike for 14 days and nobody cares

He shouted to journalists being given a guided tour round the outside of the camp perimeter.

It was the first time any of the detainees here had made contact with anyone outside the US military other than embassy staff or Red Cross officials.

"We have been on hunger strike for 14 days and nobody cares," he shouted in what appeared to be an Arab accent.

He was one of a small number who had been segregated in a corner of the camp because they were on hunger strike.

It was clear they do not realise that the whole world knows of the camp and their presence.

Rigid conditions

After more than two months in the camp the prisoners remain confined almost all day in eight foot square fenced in cells.

It doesn't take long after you arrive at Camp X-Ray to realise just how a tough a place it is.

Camp X-ray at night
The cells are brighly lit all night
By day, the heat is a searing 32C in March. By night, bright arc lights illuminate the camp so that every move of the inmates can be watched by the guards who encircle them in watchtowers.

Prisoners are only given 15 minutes' exercise, two or three times a week.

As well as guards outside the cells and in the towers there are two "response" teams.

One inside the perimeter is armed with batons while the one just outside has the full armoury of the US military at its disposal.

Neither has been called into action yet.


Also just outside the perimeter of the camp are the five huts where detainees are interrogated.

Interrogation huts
Journalists were not allowed into the interrogration huts
Our military guides would not let us in or tell us any more about this.

We did see one man - shackled, as they all are once outside their cells - being taken in, followed by a couple of men in civilian dress who were clearly FBI and CIA agents.

"You must tell the truth during questioning. Then, and only then, will we be able to determine who will be allowed to return home," Brigadier General Lenhert tells the prisoners.

"We know a great deal about many of you, and lying to us will only make your stay here longer."

Intelligence from one prisoner is compared with what's collected from others as well as from Afghanistan and other areas.

Any sign of discrepancies means trouble for those thought to be lying.

Brigadier General Michael Lehnert
"Continuing to lie to us is going to get them nowhere"
See also:

28 Feb 02 | Americas
Guantanamo hunger strike escalates
27 Feb 02 | Americas
Camp X-ray: The legal options
12 Feb 02 | Americas
UN speaks out on Afghan detainees
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