September 13, 2009 / 2:45 AM / 10 years ago

Obama to change policy on detainees at Afghan base-NYT

NEW YORK, Sept 12 (Reuters) - The Obama administration plans to issue new guidelines meant to provide prisoners at a U.S. detention center in Afghanistan greater latitude in challenging their detention, The New York Times reported in its Sunday edition.

Citing Pentagon officials and advocates for detainees at the U.S.-run prison at Bagram Air Base, the newspaper said each of the approximately 600 detainees would be assigned a U.S. military official who would have the authority to look for evidence, including witnesses and classified material, for any detainee challenging his detention.

The challenges would be heard by a military-appointed review board, the Times said.

The new policies are expected to be announced as early as this week, after congressional review, the paper reported, but it was unclear how quickly they could be implemented.

The detainees, some of whom have been held for more than five years, have no access to lawyers, the Times said, nor do they have the right to hear the accusations against them. Only cursory review of their "enemy combatant" status is in place.

"We don’t want to hold anyone we don’t have to hold," a Defense Department official requesting anonymity told the newspaper. "It’s just about doing the right thing."

More than 600 prisoners are held at Bagram’s makeshift prison, where human rights activists say prisoners have been protesting allegedly inhumane conditions in recent months.

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