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Prisoner Photos Stir Controversy in Britain

January 21, 2002|From Associated Press

LONDON — Britain asked the United States on Sunday to explain photographs from the Guantanamo Bay prison that show Al Qaeda and Taliban prisoners kneeling on the ground in handcuffs.

Foreign Minister Jack Straw sought the explanation after the photos were prominently displayed in British newspapers and on television. He said he was awaiting a report from a team of British officials visiting the prison at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Mail tabloid ran the headline "Tortured" over one of the photos, asserting that the pictures "show use of sensory deprivation to soften suspects for interrogation."

There is mounting concern in Britain about American treatment of the 144 prisoners, three of whom say they are British.

"I have asked our officials in Guantanamo Bay to establish with the U.S. the circumstances in which these photographs were taken," Straw said in a statement.

The photographs, released by the U.S. Defense Department, show some suspects wearing blacked-out goggles and earmuffs. Those kneeling and handcuffed also had coverings over their mouths and noses and mittens on their hands.

At the base, U.S. military spokesman Robert Nelson said the photos were taken shortly after the prisoners arrived from Afghanistan aboard a C-141 cargo plane.

"It gets pretty cold on a C-141, hence the hat and mittens for comfort," Nelson said.

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