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'US jail in Afghanistan worse than Guantanamo'

Pentagon officials have described the former machine shop at Bagram Air Base as a screening centre.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 09:36 IST

A US prison in Afghanistan houses about 500 terror suspects indefinitely held without charges and in poorer conditions than the better-known camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba,

The New York Times

has reported.

Pentagon officials have described the former machine shop at Bagram Air Base, 65 kms north of Kabul, as a screening centre, the Times said on Sunday.

"Bagram was never meant to be a long-term facility, and now it's a long-term facility without the money or resources," an unnamed Pentagon official who knows the facility and compared it to the one at Guantanamo was quoted as saying in the daily.

"Anyone who has been to Bagram would tell you it's worse" than the Guantanamo prison, the official said.

The Guantanamo jail has triggered a worldwide debate about the treatment of prisoners, many of whom were held for years without trial prior to a June 2004 Supreme Court ruling.

The Times said some of prisoners have been held at Bagram for as long as two or three years and have no access to lawyers or to hear the allegations against them.

Administration officials have compared the legal limbo at Guantanamo to Bagram's, according to the Times, which said that the military had kept Bagram secret for a longer period, by barring photographs and by refusing to make prisoners' names public.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is allowed to visit, the Times said.

Former prisoners, military officials and soldiers have described facilities where men are held in wire cages, sleep on foam mats on the floor and, until a year ago, used buckets as latrines, the Times said.

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 09:32 IST