WORLD / America

U.S.: 3 Gitmo inmates hanged themselves
Updated: 2006-06-11 09:55

On Friday, after the prison came up during a meeting with Fogh Rasmussen at Camp David, Bush said his goal is to do just that.

"We would like to end the Guantanamo -- we'd like it to be empty," Bush said. But he added: "There are some that, if put out on the streets, would create grave harm to American citizens and other citizens of the world. And, therefore, I believe they ought to be tried in courts here in the United States."

Bush said his administration was waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on whether he overstepped his authority in ordering the detainees to be tried by U.S. military tribunals.

In a sign of the administration's concern over the diplomatic fallout from the suicides, there was an extraordinary round of global outreach by officials from the White House National Security Council, the State Department and Bush's congressional liasons.

Among those contacted within hours by the Bush administration were the United Nations, the European Union, most European nations individually, the embassies of Mideast and near-Mideast countries, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Snow said.

Josh Colangelo-Bryan of the Center for Constitutional Rights discovered one of his clients attempting to hang himself last year when he visited Guantanamo, and said he feared there would be more suicides.

Colangelo-Bryan said one detainee recently told him: "I would simply rather die than live here forever without rights."

Moazzam Begg, 37, a British Muslim who spent three years in U.S. detention, including two years at Guantanamo before being released in 2005, told The Associated Press: "We all expected something like this but were not prepared. It's just awful. I hope the Bush administration will finally see this is wrong."

A total of 759 detainees have been held in Guantanamo, with about 300 released or transferred.

There have been increasing displays of defiance from the prisoners, with many claiming their innocence.

Until now, Guantanamo officials have said there have been 41 suicide attempts by 25 detainees and no deaths since the U.S. began taking prisoners to the base in January 2002. Defense lawyers contend the number of suicide attempts is higher.

On May 18, in one of the prison's most violent incidents, a detainee staged a suicide attempt to lure guards into a cellblock where they were attacked by prisoners armed with makeshift weapons, the military said. Earlier that day, two detainees overdosed on antidepressants they collected from other detainees and hoarded in their cells. The men have since recovered.

There also has been a hunger strike among detainees since August. The number of inmates refusing food dropped to 18 by last weekend from a high of 131. The military has at times used aggressive force-feeding methods, including a restraint chair.

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