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Lawyers for Cuba detainees decry US

Say justice not served by lengthy detentions without specific charge

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of terror suspects continue to be unjustly held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, because of the Justice Department's repeated refusal to justify their detention, some of the lawyers for the detainees told a federal judge yesterday.

"The government has stonewalled. Why is it after three years, they can't say why they are holding these people?" said Thomas Wilner, who represents 12 Kuwaitis. "We've had people rotting in prison, so we don't need any more delay."

The hearing before US District Judge Joyce Hens Green was aimed at providing a status report on lawyers' access to the detainees after the Supreme Court ruled in June that they had a right to challenge their captivity in federal court.

Green has been presiding over several issues of attorney access, including procedures under which lawyers could visit their clients and whether the conversations are monitored.

Last month, she ordered the government to provide the factual basis for detaining the so-called enemy combatants after expressing concerns about stalled negotiations.

Terry Henry, a lawyer representing the Justice Department, said the government intended to meet an Oct. 18 deadline for the filings and said lawyers were continuing negotiations on detainee access. The government also has filed a motion to dismiss the detainees' charges, he said.

More than 500 men from 40 countries are being held on suspicion of links to Al Qaeda or the fallen Taliban regime of Afghanistan. Some have been at the prison for more than two years, with little or no contact with the outside world.

Green urged both sides to reach resolution quickly to avoid judicial intervention. She did not set new deadlines or indicate when she might rule on several issues, such as the government's request to monitor detainee discussions with their attorneys based on security grounds.

"I ask that you keep in mind that we don't have unlimited resources. Please do your best to meet the deadlines," she said.

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