Yemen urges US to shut Guantanamo


Yemen has called on the United States to free all detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, saying the move would generate global good-will towards Washington.

About 100 Yemenis are being held at Guantanamo, making them the biggest group among the approximately 275 detainees there, according to Yemen's media.

"I hope that the United States releases all those held at Guantanamo, based on the principles of human rights, freedom and justice upon which your country was founded," President Ali Abdullah Saleh told US President George W Bush in a letter.

"I am sure that such an undertaking would draw a wide positive response from peoples and countries across the world," a senior Yemeni official quoted Saleh as saying in the letter.

Saleh said Yemen would study charges against the detainees and prosecute them under Yemeni laws.

A Yemeni official told Reuters that a security team from Yemen would visit Guantanamo and meet with the detainees in early February.

The United States has been under international pressure to shut down the prison in Cuba, which many human rights watchdogs say is illegal because detainees are being held there without charge.

Washington started sending suspected al Qaeda and Taliban captives there in 2002, after leading an invasion of Afghanistan and deposing the ruling Taliban following the September 11 attacks on US cities.

Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has joined the US-led "war on terror" and is trying to shed its image in the West as a haven for Islamic militants.