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EU Officials in Washington to Discuss Guantanamo


Two top European Union officials are questioning members of the Obama administration this week about its plans to close the controversial detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot and Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer presented U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a list of questions on the issue Monday in Washington.

Barrot said they asked how Washington intends to avoid another situation like Guantanamo, where terrorist suspects have been imprisoned for years without charge and faced allegedly harsh treatment.

He said they also discussed other U.S. detention facilities, including one at the Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to close the Guantanamo detention center within a year, and is now looking for countries willing to take some prisoners.

Several European countries say they could help, but security remains a concern.

The U.S. says about 60 of the approximately 250 Guantanamo prisoners are not security threats and can be cleared for release. Some of them would risk persecution if returned to their homelands.

In related news, a U.S. magazine has published excerpts from a secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that asserts the Bush administration's treatment of al-Qaida captives "constituted torture" in many cases.

"The New York Review of Books" details the 2007 Red Cross report on its web site. It says the report's findings are based on interviews with 14 "high-value" detainees after they were transferred to Guantanamo in 2006.

The report says some U.S. practices toward prisoners were "cruel, inhuman and degrading." Those practices allegedly included extended sleep deprivation, prolonged standing and forced nudity, repeated immersion in cold water, beatings, and waterboarding.

The Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment.

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