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Bush Makes Decision on Detainees

February 7, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush has determined that the Geneva Convention applies to the conflict in Afghanistan and Taliban soldiers, but not al-Qaida fighters and other terrorists, The Associated Press has learned.

The decision, which the White House planned to announce Thursday, has enormous legal implications for the more than 150 detainees held at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

Two administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision was designed to ensure that U.S. soldiers would be afforded protections covered by the Geneva Convention in the event they are captured.

The administration has said the Guantanamo Bay detainees are being treated humanely regardless of their legal designation.

The decision was made as U.S. troops completed 320 new holding cells in Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. A plane carrying more captives was expected to arrive at the base on Thursday.

There are 158 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay, at least 100 of them citizens of Saudi Arabia. Saudi officials have asked that they be turned over for interrogation at home. Bush has said the Saudis will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

A few other countries, including Australia, Britain, Sweden and Yemen, also have citizens among the detainees. France sent a delegation to the base to verify the citizenship of several French-speaking suspects.

The first detainees arrived Jan. 11.

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