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US public diplomacy chief defends Gitmo prison on Arab junket

[JURIST] Echoing views expressed [JURIST report] by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last week, US Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs and one-time top Bush aide Karen Hughes [official profile] Monday defended US practices at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and rejected the United Nations call [JURIST report] for the US to shut down its military detention facility. Interviewed by Arab satellite channel Aljazeera, she said the detainees there are warriors who have made public their intent to kill Americans and that the US government has a right to defend its citizens. Her remarks came after United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's call for the United States to close Guantanamo as soon as possible, reiterating the conclusions of a 54 page report [PDF text; press release] released last week by a UN-appointed independent panel. The US has thusfar rejected the call [JURIST report] despite mounting international support for the UN position [JURIST report]. There are presently about 500 detainees being held at Guantanamo, all but a very few of whom have yet to be formally charged.

In response to questions about alleged US secret detention centers in Europe and transporting suspects to these prisons on rendition flights [JURIST news archive], Hughes maintained that the US is in line with its commitment to international agreements and has respected the sovereignty of other countries. Hughes has been in Qatar [Aljazeera report] speaking at the US-Islamic World Forum [forum website]. AP has more.

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