Tags: U.S. | Will | Hand | Over | Camp | X-Ray | Detainees

U.S. Will Hand Over Camp X-Ray Detainees

Sunday, 24 February 2002 12:00 AM

In an exclusive interview with the British newspaper chain 'The Telegraph Group' Rumsfeld has declared that the United States will also repatriate al-Qaeda prisoners who are nationals of other countries under similar deals.

The full interview will be published in London Monday but in a curtain raiser report in the London Sunday Telegraph Rumsfeld is quoted as saying "I have no desire to fill up our jails and spend time and money holding people."

"My goal is to have as few of them as humanly possible. When we have got out of them the information that we feel has been appropriate, we will very likely let as many countries as possible have any of their nationals they would like. They can handle the prosecution," he is reported as saying.

Those retained by America he says would face trial by military commission. Asked whether they would face the death penalty he is said to have replied: "Oh sure."

The interview raises the question of America's increasing isolation over its treatment of Camp X-Ray prisoners. Relations with European Union countries have taken several downturns since the Pentagon allowed pictures to be published of orange suited prisoners blindfolded and kneeling at gunpoint.

Nor have statements that conditions at the camp are better than in some domestic high security prisons helped. Last week the Council of Europe, founded in 1947 to foster democracy and human rights, announced that the death penalty was considered "unacceptable in any circumstances including war and immediate danger of war."

Rumsfeld is said in the newspaper report to have responded robustly to criticism from European politicians in recent weeks. The former British Conservative minister, and now foreign affair Commissioner at the EU's executive, the European Commission, Chris Patten has been particularly critical of the United States.

In a number of statements he has accused the United States under President George Bush of "going into unilateralist overdrive." Rumsfeld is said to have responded, "After living 70 years I am not surprised to find that there are people who differ."

Driving the criticism of America is the concern in Europe, especially in Germany that President Bush is planning to attack Iraq and "finish the job his father started."

Rumsfeld is said to have declared that Saddam Hussein could only be removed by outside intervention. According to the report he refused to be drawn on the issue.

However, another British newspaper Sunday reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush are to hold a special summit in April to "finalize details of military action to overthrow Saddam Hussein."

A spokesperson for No. 10 Downing Street, the British Prime Minister's office, is said to have confirmed that action against Iraq will be at the top of the agenda. The report adds that the British government is planning to publish a report suggesting that the Iraqi leader is attempting to amass rudimentary nuclear weapons and ways of launching so-called dirty bombs as well as biological and chemical devices.

The European Commission was unwilling to comment Sunday. But since President Bush made his "axis of evil" speech naming Iraq, Iran and North Korea, French President Lionel Jospin, Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder and Commissioner Patten have attacked him.

There is known to be a growing weakening of the alliance in America's war against terrorism that was fragile in continental Europe from the beginning. Whether Prime Minister Blair can now work his magic a second time over Iraq is doubtful. France has strong trade links with Iraq and Germany, with more than 2 million Turkish Muslim immigrants is sensitive to inflaming the Muslim world.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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In an exclusive interview with the British newspaper chain 'The Telegraph Group' Rumsfeld has declared that the United States will also repatriate al-Qaeda prisoners who are nationals of other countries under similar deals. The full interview will be published in London...
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2002-00-24
Sunday, 24 February 2002 12:00 AM
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