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Bush leaves open possibility of closing Guantanamo prison

Xinhuanet | June 8, 2005

US President George W. Bush on Wednesday left open the possibility of closing the US detention center at Guantanamo, Cuba, following mounting criticism from around the world for the mistreatment of prisoners there.

"We're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the mainobjective, which is to protect America," Bush told Fox News in an interview. "What we don't want to do is let somebody out that comes back and harms us."

Calls for the closure of the Guantanamo prison have risen over the past few days after reports of prisoner abuse and even possible Koran desecration grabbed world's attention.

Senator Joseph Biden, a Democrat from Delaware, is among those who first raised the idea of closing the Guantanamo prison. He declared the detention camp "the greatest propaganda tool that exists for the recruiting of terrorists around the world."

Former US President Jimmy Carter said at a human rights conference Tuesday that closing the prison would demonstrate the US commitment to human rights at a time when Washington's reputation has suffered because of reports of prisoner abuses.

About 540 detainees from more than 40 countries were still heldat Guantanamo following their capture during the war in Afghanistan. Human rights groups have criticized the United Statesfor its continued military detention of foreign nationals without a trial. Some detainees have been held for as long as two years atthe base without access to lawyers or family.

Recently released FBI memos and news reports about alleged desecration of Koran at Guantanamo have caused wide-spread outcry in the Muslim world. The Bush administration dismissed those charges, saying the Guantanamo detainees were being treated in accordance with international standards and any allegations of mistreatment are fully investigated.


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