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US urged to grant right of defence to prisoners

March 26, 2003

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RIYADH, March 25: The secretary-general of the Committee for the Defence of Guantanamo Detainees has urged the United States to apply Geneva Conventions in its treatment of prisoners.

“As the United States wants its prisoners in Iraq to be treated according to the Geneva Conventions, we also demand and expect that our prisoners (at Guantanamo Bay) would receive similar treatment,” said Kateb Al-Shammary, who is defending several Saudi internees at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

He urged the US authorities to put the prisoners on trial and grant them the basic right of defence.

More than 650 men from various countries, including about a 100 from Saudi Arabia, are being held without trial at Guantanamo Bay on suspicion of having links with Al Qaeda.

Meanwhile, Michael Ratner, president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights, has said the treatment of Taliban detainees is endangering the lives of the captured US soldiers in Iraq.

“Unfortunately, the United States is not in a very good moral or legal position to complain about the humiliation of troops taken prisoner in Iraq,” he was quoted here as saying.

Mr Ratner agreed that “televising our soldiers violates the (Geneva) Convention’s prohibitions on humiliating and degrading treatment and should not be done by any country”.

But the United States has “refused to apply the Conventions to the Guantanamo detainees,” he said in an statement.