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Homeland Security

Blair defends continuing detention of Camp X-Ray prisoners


London, Oct 22, IRNA -- Prime Minister Tony Blair Wednesday accepted 
that the issue of over 650 prisoners being held illegally by the US at
its Guantanamo Bay naval base in Cuba had to be resolved soon but 
defended their continuing detention. 
The detainees, which include up to nine Britons, were being held 
`for the security of the country`, Blair insisted for the first time. 
Previously he has tried to justify their illegal detention from 
the information extracted from them by US interrogators. 
Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith said that the terror suspects were 
in `a legal no-mans-land` and amounted to `an unacceptable aspect of 
the war against terrorism`. 
The UK citizens and others were being detained without prospect of
trial under British law, American law or according to international 
law, he said. 
Blair, speaking at Prime Minister`s Question Time, accepted that 
the issue `certainly has to be resolved soon`, but could not confirm 
when a decision would be reached on the Camp X-Ray prisoners, most of 
whom have been held for up to two years. 
"Either there will be sufficient undertakings given about the form
of trial that they will have under a military commission, or 
alternatively they will be returned to this country," he said. 
The prime minister repeated that the UK attorney general has been 
in touch with his American counterpart in order to try and make sure 
that sufficient undertakings are given. 
"It may be that it`s not possible to bring their rules into 
conformity with ours, in which case they will be returned here," he 
But the prime minister insisted `it is important to realize that 
there is a reason why these people have been detained`. This was why 
Britain had exercised `a lot of care about how they are tried, not 
merely for their sake because they are entitled to a fair trial, but 
also for the security of the country`, he said. 

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