Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Call to relax Guantanamo regime

Detainee being escorted by camp guards in 2006
About 250 prisoners are still held at the prison camp

A US defence department review of conditions at Guantanamo Bay detention camp has called for an easing of the isolation of prisoners there.

The Pentagon report says inmates should be allowed more social interaction and opportunities for recreation.

It comes as new US Attorney General Eric Holder pays his first visit to the controversial facility in Cuba.

Last month, President Barack Obama ordered the Guantanamo Bay camp to be closed within one year.

About 250 prisoners are still held there, nearly all without charge.

Among them was a UK inmate, who returned from the camp to Britain earlier on Monday.

Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, 30, was held in Guantanamo for more than four years and says he was tortured.

He became the first Guantanamo prisoner released since Barack Obama took office.

'Humane treatment'

The report, by Adm Patrick M Walsh, says conditions at the camp comply with the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of prisoners.

However, it recommends allowing more socialisation among prisoners, many of whom are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day.

The key to socialisation is providing more human-to-human contact
Pentagon report

Such interaction "is essential to maintain humane treatment over time", the report says.

"In our opinion, the key to socialisation is providing more human-to-human contact, recreation opportunities with several detainees together, intellectual stimulation, and group prayer," AFP news agency cited the report as saying.

Mr Holder is being briefed on the detainees and the charges they were facing before military trials were halted last month.

The attorney general is making his visit away from the media glare, the BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington says.

It comes as the Obama administration wrestles with the legal, practical and security implications of its pledge to shut Guantanamo, he adds.

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China Post Ease isolation of inmates at Guantanamo: Pentagon - 6 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Binyam Mohamed returns to UK - 11 hrs ago
Deutsche Welle UK Resident Freed From Guantanamo Raises Torture Allegations - 16 hrs ago Ease Gitmo inmate isolation: Pentagon - 16 hrs ago
Central Western Daily Britain accused of collusion in 'medieval torture' of detainee - 20 hrs ago

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