US to release five Guantanamo prisoners

The United States will release the last four Britons and an Australian held as terrorism suspects for about three years without charges at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The announcement came on the third anniversary of the arrival of the first blindfolded and shackled detainees at the remote base on the southeastern tip of Cuba, where the United States holds 549 foreigners after having released about 200 prisoners to date.

Human rights groups, outraged over U.S. treatment of &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Guantanamo prisoners, welcomed the news but urged the British government to investigate claims by the men that they were tortured at the base, informs Reuters.

The Australian, Mamdouh Habib, is one of two Australians held at Guantanamo. The other, David Hicks, is one of four Guantanamo prisoners facing criminal charges.

The Pentagon said the British and Australian governments had "made a number of security assurances to the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>U.S. government" that were "important to the transfer decision," but it did not state the nature of these assurances. The Pentagon said the timing of the release "remains under discussion."

"These men and others have lost years of their lives under the most dire of circumstances. Let it never happen again that people can be detained without trial, treated inhumanely and even tortured," said human rights lawyer Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents three of the five men, says ABC News.

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