Thursday, January 18, 2007

Detainee letters show window into Guantanamo life

Detainee letters show window into Guantanamo life

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One of the 14 "high value" detainees transferred last year from secret CIA prisons to the U.S. military camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, says in a letter to his wife she should not dwell on the thought of his return, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

"If I come back, it will be a miracle of God," terrorism suspect Majid Khan, 26, says in the handwritten letter to his Pakistani wife, published on an Urdu language Web site operated by the BBC, the newspaper reported.

The letter and three others to relatives in Maryland were the first substantial communication from any of the 14 prisoners who spent time in CIA prisons before being transferred to Guantanamo in September, the Post said.

Khan, a Pakistani national, wrote that he is held in solitary confinement, is allowed to leave his cell "to get sunburn" for one hour each day and he sometimes talks with other inmates through cell walls, the newspaper reported.

Other than those particulars, the letters contained few details of his confinement, the Post said.

The letters, redacted by military censors, were delivered to Khan's relatives through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the newspaper said.

The U.S. government has denied Khan and other high-value detainees access to lawyers, arguing in court filings that CIA interrogation methods to which they were subjected are among the most sensitive national security secrets, the Post reported.

As a result, little is known about the arrests, detentions or interrogations of the 14 captives, the Post said.

The newspaper reported that U.S. officials say Khan, a Pakistani national, took orders from Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks on the United States and also a high-value prisoner at Guantanamo.

Khan's brother in suburban Baltimore, Mahmood Khan, told The Washington Post the family was releasing the letters it received last month in order to draw attention to the case.