[JURIST] A delegation of Algerian officials made the country's first visit to the US military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] in mid-March to evaluate the conditions of 26 Algerian citizens being held there, according to a report [text, in French] published Tuesday in Algeria's El Watan [media website, in French] newspaper. Representatives of the Algerian ministries of defense, foreign affairs and justice made up the group; they were allowed to speak with the detainees in private, and one of the visiting officials told the newspaper the detainees had complained of inhumane treatment. The report states that US figures show 29 or 30 Algerians being held at Guantanamo, suggesting that the delegation may not have been able to contact all the detainees it sought. The 26 were all recruited in the 1990s and spent time in London before fanning out to Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the countries where they were ultimately captured.
Algeria [JURIST news archive] is currently negotiating with the US to repatriate the 26 prisoners to their home country, but discussions are expected to take some time. Military-to-military exchanges between the two countries began last year and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in February that he hopes to increase counter-terrorism cooperation with the Algerian government. Reuters has more.