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Sunday, 13 January, 2002, 09:24 GMT
'Taleban' Briton's identity sought
The US base in southern Cuba is heavily guarded
The Foreign Office is working to officially identify the British man who is among the 20 al-Qaeda and Taleban captives being held by the US in Cuba.

Officials have confirmed that a Briton was among the suspects - which the US describes as the "toughest" of fighters - taken from Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay naval base on Friday.

We are asking for access and seeking reassurances on welfare and treatment

Foreign Office

A spokesman said on Sunday they had been given details of the prisoner but were still working to verify and confirm the man's identity.

He added: "I do not know when the man will be identified but his next of kin must also be informed."

However, the Foreign Office has confirmed that the man is not James McLintock, the Dundee-born 37-year-old who was detained on Christmas Eve in Pakistan.

Human rights

There have been complaints about the conditions the men are being held in at the top-security base.

The Foreign Office has said it is asking for access and "seeking reassurances on welfare and treatment".

They are being kept separate in make-shift rooms, made from chain link fencing, measuring 1.8 by 2.4 metres (six feet by eight feet).

Whatever the formal category, these prisoners still have legal rights

Donald Anderson
Commons foreign affairs select committee
The rooms have mattresses, concrete floors and wooden roofs, and are inside razor-wire pens.

Each of the compounds is being lit 24 hours a day so the activities of detainees can be constantly monitored by guards, hundreds more of whom have been drafted in.

The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said the men were not being treated as prisoners of war, but as "unlawful combatants".

But he insisted the prisoners would be treated humanely and within the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

Labour MP Donald Anderson, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, said the prisoners must be treated in a civilised way.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday: "Whatever the formal category, these prisoners still have legal rights and what we've heard already suggests that human rights are indeed being put in jeopardy."


Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Menzies Campbell said the men were "entitled to be dealt with humanely... and should not be subject to degrading treatment".

He added: "Nothing is more likely to damage support for the campaign against terrorism, particularly in Arab countries, if these men are seen to be humiliated."

The men were the first of an expected 2,000 to be transported to the base.

A number of Britons are believed to have been fighting on behalf of the Taleban in Afghanistan.

Since the beginning of the US-led military campaign, British media have reported several UK citizens among captured Taleban fighters.

However, the government has never confirmed the reports.

The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"The Foreign Office has confirmed it has been told a Briton is among the prisoners"
Liberal Democrats MP Jenny Tonge
"They should be found guilty before they are punished"
Red Cross spokesman, Vincent Lusser
"We consider them to be prisoners of war"
Director of Fair Trials Abroad, Stephen Jakobi
"In America, they are doing all sorts of obscure dodges to prevent due process being observed"
See also:

12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Harsh conditions for Afghan prisoners
28 Dec 01 | Americas
Destination Guantanamo Bay
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