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SLUG: 2-285313 Britain / U-S Prisoners (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=01/16/02

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=BRITAIN / U-S PRISONERS (L-O)

NUMBER=2-285313

BYLINE=MICHAEL DRUDGE

DATELINE=LONDON

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: British Prime Minister Tony Blair says al-Qaida and Taleban prisoners held by the United States in Cuba are getting humane treatment. The issue came up today (Wednesday) in debate in parliament, as we hear from V-O-A London correspondent, Michael Drudge.

TEXT: Prime Minister Blair said the prisoners are some of the most dangerous members of the al-Qaida terrorist network, and the former Taleban regime of Afghanistan.

Still, he said, they must be treated in a proper and humane way.

///BLAIR ACT///

We are dealing with highly dangerous people here. However, I totally agree, of course, that anybody who is captured by American troops or British troops or anyone else should be treated humanely and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and proper international norms.

///END ACT///

The issue is a delicate one for Mr. Blair, who has been the staunchest ally in the U-S-led war against terrorism.

Three of the captives claim to be British citizens, and human rights activists and some British politicians say they fear the prisoners' rights will be trampled if they are prosecuted by U-S military tribunals.

The United States says it does not consider the captives to be prisoners of war, and therefore deserving of all the protections afforded under the Geneva Conventions.

Charles Kennedy, leader of Britain's opposition Liberal Democrats, said Mr. Blair should tell the Americans to act with prudence.

///KENNEDY ACT///

To maintain the global opinion, which has been so successful in the fight against terrorism, we must demonstrate that our values remain above those who seek to destroy them.

///END ACT///

British diplomats and International Red Cross officials are making plans to get a first-hand look at the prisoners at the U-S Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Blair urged parliament to reserve judgment on how the prisoners are being treated until all the facts are in. (Signed).

NEB/MWD/GE/RH



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