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Wednesday, 30 October, 2002, 17:10 GMT
Karzai wants Guantanamo checks
prisoner
The men said they had not been mistreated
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he plans to send a team to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to check the condition of dozens of Afghans held there on suspicion of al-Qaeda links.

guantanamo
The US is planning to free some prisoners
Mr Karzai made the decision after meeting three Afghans freed by the Americans who said they had no terrorist links.

The three included Haji Faiz Mohammad, a man who gave his age as 105, although a prison identity tag showed his year of birth as 1931.

Both he and another man said they had no links to the Taleban or al-Qaeda. The third man said he had been forced to fight alongside the Taleban.

When Mr Karzai asked them about their time at Guantanamo, they said the situation was OK.

Karzai 'saddened'

During an interview with the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday, the men recounted how they had been confined in open-air cages and interrogated for hours at a time.

Haji Faiz Mohammad
Haji Faiz Mohammad claims to be 105
They were not allowed any contact with their families for the better part of a year.

But the men said they were not otherwise mistreated by their American guards and were allowed to practice their religion freely.

But presidential spokesman Sayed Fazl Akbar, said: "Mr Karzai was saddened to see that they really had imprisoned a man aged 105.

"Mr Karzai said afterwards there was a need to send a team to verify who have been held and seek freedom of people like this and other innocents. A team will go at some stage."

Releases planned

The Pentagon announced last week it was planning to free some of the hundreds of detainees from 43 countries at Guantanamo who were no longer of intelligence value or candidates for prosecution.

In addition to the three Afghans, one Pakistani was released and arrived back in Islamabad on Sunday.

The US military said it flew about 30 new detainees to Cuba on Monday, leaving 625 still imprisoned.

No charges have been filed against any of the detainees, although the Bush administration has left open the possibility that some could face military tribunals.

One Afghan citizen was repatriated in April after doctors determined he was mentally ill.


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29 Jan 02 | Americas
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