French Guantanamo inmates returned

The last three French detainees at the US naval base prison at Guantanamo Bay have been returned to France but were immediately detained as part of a security investigation.

    Guantanamo has been labelled a 'concentration camp'

    A French military plane brought Ridwan Khalid, Khalid bin Mustafa

    and Mustaq Ali Patel from the base to Paris on Monday, a legal source said.


    They were taken into custody as part of "investigations into criminal association relating to terrorist activities", said a Paris prosecutors' office statement.


    The US Defence Department confirmed that it "transferred three detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to France for prosecution", raising the number of detainees who have been moved out of the base to 211.


    There are about 540 detainees from 40 countries at the

    controversial maximum security facility.


    Terrorism charges


    Most were detained in Afghanistan following the US-led campaign to topple the Taliban and catch al-Qaida leader Usama bin Ladin after the 9/11 attacks.

    Most Guantanamo Bay detainees
    were arrested in Afghanistan

    An agreement on the transfer of the three was reached last month during a visit to Paris by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


    Four French men were sent back from Guantanamo in July. They are also currently detained, facing charges of terrorist conspiracy.

    The men are suspected of spending time in al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan and belonging to a network that recruited Islamist fighters.


    Khalid, 36, has two brothers already under investigation for alleged terrorism-related crimes.


    Bin Mustafa, 33, who is a married father of two, went to

    Afghanistan to learn Arabic, according to his family and lawyers.


    Torture and abuse


    Patel, who is aged about 40, was born in India but has French nationality through his marriage to a woman from La Reunion.


    US President Bush has called the
    Guantanamo inmates 'terrorists'

    He was reported to have been an imam at a French mosque before going to Afghanistan and has family in Britain.


    The United States has stepped up transfers from Guantanamo to its allies in recent months, as criticism of the camp has mounted.


    Several former Guantanamo detainees have alleged they were tortured or abused there.


    This has been denied by US authorities.


    The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, discussed the treatment of prisoners during a recent meeting with US President George Bush in Washington.



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