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Monday, 21 January, 2002, 13:45 GMT
Captive Britons have 'no complaints'
Feroz Abbasi
Feroz Abbasi has been confirmed as a suspect
The three British al-Qaeda suspects being held at Camp X-Ray in Cuba have "no complaints" about their treatment, according to British officials who have seen them.


They only wear shackles when they are outside their cells

The prime minister's official spokesman
The three are in "good physical health" and are being treated well, they reported.

The long-awaited assessment of conditions at the base comes amid fierce criticism of the US's treatment of the prisoners, who are held in small cells open to the elements.

Photographs of detainees chained and blindfolded, published at the weekend, heightened concerns that the US was flouting international law.

The Foreign Office has confirmed the name of one of the suspects, Feroz Abbasi, from Croydon, but is refusing to release the names of the other two British men held at the camp.

Another 34 suspects arrived at the US Naval base in Guantanamo Bay on Monday, wearing shackles and black out goggles as they were led off the aircraft.

'No mistreatment'

The prime minister's official spokesman said the government would now take time to study the report in detail.

Camp X Ray
Pictures released last week raised fears about human rights
"We said people should not rush into judgement and now we know the facts," the spokesman said.

The three British nationals in the camp were "able to speak freely and without inhibition," he added.

"There is no sign of any mistreatment.

"They have also had contact with the Red Cross.

"They asked for a number of messages to be passed on to their families, which we are doing.

"There were no gags, no goggles, no ear muffs and no shackles while they were in their cells.

"They only wear shackles when they are outside their cells."

'Helpful and open'

He said the three suspects "get three meals a day, including a "pre-packed Islamic meal for lunch", as much water as they need and daily medical checks.



  • 80 prisoners detained in cages like these
  • Buckets for toilets
  • Thin foam mattresses
  • Beards shaved

    Detailed plan of cells and conditions

  • "The Red Cross is arranging for them to have copies of the Koran," the prime minister's spokesman added.

    "They have also been provided with washing materials and calls to prayer are being broadcast over the camp public address system."

    The prisoner's cells were "basic but fit" and the US military authorities had been "helpful and open throughout the visit," he said.

    Pictures in the press over the weekend showing bound and gagged men were taken shortly after the suspects arrived in Cuba, the spokesman said.

    The British team were there to assess their identity and welfare.

    Earlier, Mr Abbasi's MP, Geraint Davies, was among Labour backbenchers expressing their worries about the way the men were being treated.

    He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The perception of the treatment as opposed to the real treatment is counter productive in the Muslim community."

    Basic standards

    There are 144 prisoners at the base, after the arrival of 34 more suspects early on Monday. The camp is eventually expected to hold more than 300 detainees.

    Earlier, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "The British Government's position is that prisoners - regardless of their technical status - should be treated humanely and in accordance with customary international law.

    "We have always made that clear and the Americans have said they share this view."

    The US - which maintains the detainees are being treated humanely - refuses to call them prisoners of war, referring to them as illegal combatants.

    Under the Geneva Convention, PoWs must be tried by the same courts and under the same procedures as US soldiers.

    Under that status, prisoners would be tried for war crimes through courts-martial or civilian courts, not by secretive military tribunals which could impose the death penalty.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Richard Lister
    "The military reject allegations that the men are being harshly treated"
    Donald Anderson MP
    "I believe the British government should talk very strongly to our US allies"
    See also:

    21 Jan 02 | Americas
    US sedates terror suspects
    28 Dec 01 | Americas
    Destination Guantanamo Bay
    20 Jan 02 | Americas
    In pictures: Camp X-Ray prisoners
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