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US releases more Guantanamo files

BBC | April 4 2006

The US defence department has released a second batch of documents relating to detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay.

"It is an attempt to be transparent," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said of the publication of transcripts of tribunals held at the camp in Cuba.

The tribunals were held last year to determine who should remain in prison.

The move follows the publication last month of 5,000 transcript pages, in response to a court order, which showed detainees' names for the first time.

The Pentagon says 490 people are being held at the detention facility, which opened in January 2002.

Only 10 have been charged with a crime.

Claims of innocence

The US released over 2,500 pages relating to tribunal hearings held each year to see if any prisoners are eligible for transfer or release.

The Pentagon spokesman insisted the detainees posed a threat to US security and that interrogating them had garnered valuable intelligence for the war on terror.

"[The detainees] are terrorist trainers, they're bomb-makers, they're people that worked directly for Osama bin Laden, they're would-be suicide bombers. And we know that they're trained to lie to try to gain sympathy for their condition and to bring pressure upon the US government," Mr Whitman told Reuters news agency.

However, in the transcripts many detainees, sometimes named, sometimes not, state their innocence.

"I have nothing to tell, I am a normal person who works in agriculture. I have never killed anybody," said one Yemeni prisoner, who told the tribunal he grew potatoes, tomatoes, onions and raisins.

Another detainee was quizzed about possessing a brand of watch which US officials said was linked to al-Qaeda bombings.

"All I know about the watch is that it is a Casio... I know it has a compass. When we pray we have to face Mecca," Sabri Mohammed Ebrahim replied.

Human rights groups have welcomed the new information, but complain that much remains hidden.

"There are still vast numbers of documents that are concealed and hidden and declared to be secret and confidential," Bill Goodman, legal director for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents numerous detainees, said.


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