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Monday, 14 January, 2002, 00:39 GMT
'Six more Britons' heading to Cuba
Guantanamo detention camp in Cuba
There is criticism of conditions at the camp
Six more Britons suspected of links to the Taleban or al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan are reportedly being sent to the US military prison in Cuba.

The Foreign Office has confirmed that one British man is among the 20 captives already held by the US at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

On Monday the Times newspaper reported that at least six more are on the US transfer list after being detained in Afghanistan.

Guard at gate of Guantanamo naval base
Security is tight at the base

The Foreign Office has so far been unable to confirm the report.

"The US authorities are only going to confirm the identities of detainees transferred once the transfer has taken place," a spokeswoman said.

"Once the US authorities inform us that British nationals have arrived in Cuba, then... we'll seek to verify their identities," she added.

On Sunday night another 30 shackled detainees left Afghanistan bound for Cuba. It was not known whether any Britons were among them.

Identity sought

Any Britons are likely to be sent back to the UK for punishment following interrogation at the base, the newspaper said.

The Foreign Office said on Sunday that it was still working to verify and confirm the identity of the Briton known to be at Guantanamo. He is reported to have a Muslim name.

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

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", but it is not known whether any UK official has yet visited the base.

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

The cells have mattresses, concrete floors and wooden roofs, and are inside razor-wire pens.

The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, insisted the prisoners would be treated humanely and broadly within the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

'Red mist'

UK and international campaigners have also expressed concern about the legality of holding the men.

Mr Rumsfeld said the men were not being treated as prisoners of war, but as "unlawful combatants".

On Sunday Stephen Jakobi, director of Fair Trials Abroad, told the BBC: "There seems to be the 'red mist' factor in America, and they're doing all sorts of obscure dodges to prevent due process being observed."

In all, 2,000 men are expected to be transported to the base, which is leased by Cuba to the US military.

The US described the first 20 detainees as the "worst elements" of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
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
13 Jan 02 | Americas
More Afghan captives head for Cuba
28 Dec 01 | Americas
Destination Guantanamo Bay
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