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US military suspends Guantanamo visits by lawyers, journalists

[JURIST] The US military has canceled regular visits between detainees at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and their lawyers this week after three prisoners committed suicide [JURIST report] last weekend, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy website], which represents many of the 460 detainees. Government officials told the CCR that no guards are available to supervise attorney-client visits because so many are aiding a military investigation of the suicides [JURIST report], according to CCR lawyer Barbara Olshansky. She plans to go to federal court in Washington, DC, Thursday to file a motion for immediate access to the detainees. On Wednesday, the CCR criticized the military [press release] for suspending a visit to Guantanamo by US journalists. A spokesman for the US Department of Defense [official website] said the reporters were expelled [LA Times report] partly because the military trials they planned to cover had been canceled. Olshansky said government lawyers told her that the attorney visits would resume Monday and that journalists also may be allowed to return next week.

Last weekend's suicides have renewed international calls to close the Guantanamo detention center [JURIST report], which opened at the US naval base in Cuba about four years ago. At a White House press conference Wednesday, President Bush said he would like to close the center [transcript], but only after detainees are tried for terrorism or transferred to their home countries. Bush said:

No question, Guantanamo sends a signal to some of our friends – provides an excuse, for example, to say the United States is not upholding the values that they're trying to encourage other countries to adhere to. And my answer to them is, is that we are a nation of laws and rule of law. These people have been picked up off the battlefield and they're very dangerous. And so we have that balance between customary justice, the typical system, and one that will be done in the military courts.
The Washington Post has more.

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