U.S. Said to Return Saudi Suspects in Secret Deal, NYT Reports
July 3 (Bloomberg) -- Five suspected terrorists were released from the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and returned to Saudi Arabia as part of a secret agreement last year, the New York Times reported, citing unidentified senior U.S. and U.K. officials.
In return, Saudi Arabia released five U.K. citizens and two others who had been convicted of terrorist strikes in Saudi Arabia, the newspaper reported on its Web site in a story to be published in tomorrow's edition. U.K. diplomats said the men had likely given false confessions after being tortured by Saudi security police officers, the newspaper reported.
Pentagon, Central Intelligence Agency and Justice Department officials at first objected to the transfer of the Saudi suspects, who they said were possibly too great of a threat to be released from U.S. custody, the Times reported, citing unidentified officials involved in the deliberations. The deal helped satisfy important allies as the U.S. invaded Iraq, the paper said.
``There is no recollection here of any linkage between these two actions,'' Sean McCormick, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told the Times. He denied that the Saudi detainees were transferred in exchange for the U.K. prisoners. He said the return of the Saudis was ``part of the normal policy of transferring detainees from Guantanamo for prosecution or continued detention.''
(New York Times 7-4)