GENEVA,(Reuters) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it would visit next week the 14 terrorism suspects switched from secret CIA-run jails to Guantanamo Bay.
The Geneva-based humanitarian agency said it had received assurances from Washington, which made the surprise announcement about the detainees on Wednesday, that the visit would take place on the usual terms and that it would be able to speak to the prisoners in private.
“It will be next week,” ICRC spokeswoman Antonella Notari told Reuters, referring to the timing. “We were assured that the terms would be in accordance with our standard practices,” she added.
The Pentagon said the 14 detainees arrived at Guantanamo, where they could face prosecution, on Monday from undisclosed locations. Among them were the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed and two other al Qaeda leaders, Ramzi Binalshibh and Abu Zubaydah.
The ICRC, which has long been pressing for access to all suspects held in Washington’s ‘war on terrorism’, welcomed the decision to send the 14 to Guantanamo. It had no information on where they had been held previously.
“It is a good sign to transfer them out of undisclosed places of detention,” Notari said. “It is a good first step.”
The U.S. administration previously refused to admit the existence of the secret CIA prisons. The detention programme, disclosed last year by The Washington Post, provoked an international outcry.
But senior administration officials said the programme was essential and would remain open, although other U.S. officials insisted that following the transfer, there were no more terrorism suspects being held in secret locations.