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General: Detainees not being tortured

©Associated Press
February 3, 2002

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- Detainees from the war in Afghanistan are being interrogated in compliance with U.S. laws and are not being drugged or tortured, the general in charge of detention said Saturday.

"The questioning that goes on is within the bounds of normal legal procedures that are in effect within the United States," Brig. Gen. Mike Lehnert said. "For example, there is no torture, whips, there are no bright lights, drugging. We are a nation of laws."

Journalists allowed about 100 feet from the detention area could see detainees on stretchers being carried from the wooden buildings of the makeshift interrogation center to their open-air temporary cells at Camp X-Ray.

They appeared to be among the one third of the 158 detainees who U.S. officials say have wounds that were inflicted before they were captured in Afghanistan, mainly gunshots to the legs and arms.

The United States has refused to identify the detainees, except to say they come from 25 countries, as Lehnert confirmed Saturday.

A few countries have said the United States has informed them it is holding their nationals at this U.S. Navy base on the eastern end of Cuba, among them Australia, France, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Yemen.

Saudi Arabia, which says more than 100 of the prisoners are its citizens, has asked that they be returned home for interrogation.

France and Britain have asked that their nationals be returned home to face trial. Critics fear the detainees may be tried by secret military panels empowered to impose the death sentence.

U.S. officials have said they are considering options that include sending some of the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to their home countries after interrogation, but Lehnert indicated there would be many provisos.

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