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US releases detainee list

Official roster names 558 people at Guantanamo

SAN JUAN -- The US government released yesterday a detailed list of detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay prison -- the most extensive accounting of the hundreds of people held there, nearly all of them labeled ''enemy combatants."

In all, 558 people were named in the list provided by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Associated Press. They were among the first swept up in the US global war on terrorism for suspected links to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

The list is the first official roster of Guantanamo detainees who passed through the Combatant Status Review Tribunal process in 2004 and 2005 to determine whether they should be deemed enemy combatants.

Those named are from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and 39 other countries. Many have been held at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for more than four years. Only a few have faced charges.

Some names had been previously disclosed, such as David Hicks, a Muslim from Australia charged with fighting US and coalition forces in Afghanistan. He is one of 10 detainees selected to be tried by a military tribunal, on charges of attempted murder, aiding the enemy, and conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Lesser-known detainees on the list include Muhammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi who reportedly was supposed to be the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Although his presence at Guantanamo had been reported, the military previously declined to confirm it.

Others, such as an Afghan identified only as ''Commander Chaman," remain mysterious.

The largest number of detainees -- 132 -- came from Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan followed with 125, then Yemen with 107.

Partial, unofficial lists of Guantanamo Bay detainees have been compiled in the past by news organizations, lawyers, and human rights groups. The United States had previously declined to release any names except the 10 who have been formally charged.

Even with the latest release, the Pentagon has not provided a full list of the more than 750 prisoners the military says have passed through Guantanamo.

The release of the list, ordered by a federal judge, occurred amid wide criticism of the secrecy surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention center, where the United States now holds about 490 detainees.

''This is information that should have been released a long time ago, and it's a scandal that it hasn't been," said Bill Goodman, legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based group that helps coordinate legal efforts on behalf of detainees.

The combatant status hearings at Guantanamo Bay were held from July 2004 to January 2005. Of the 558 detainees, the panels classified 38 as ''no longer enemy combatants," and the military later released 29 of them.

The remaining nine, including an undisclosed number of Uighurs who can't be sent back to their native China because of the possibility they could face persecution, are being held in a part of the detention center with extra privileges, a military spokesman said.

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