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Daily Archives: April 4, 2008

Saudis free 32 former inmates of Guantanamo Bay

The Saudi Arabian authorities have released 32 men repatriated from the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba last year, a newspaper reported yesterday.
They were freed on bail after being questioned and undergoing rehabilitation sessions with Muslim clerics and other experts aimed at reintegrating them into Saudi society, the London-based Al-Hayat said.
The 32 were among Guantanamo inmates repatriated last year, it said. Another 24 Saudis transferred from Guantanamo are still undergoing rehabilitation, the pan-Arab but Saudi-owned paper added.
The United States has repatriated a total of 117 Saudis from the detention camp which Washington set up after the September 11, 2001 attacks to house prisoners rounded up in Afghanistan and elsewhere as part of its global anti-terror campaign.
Thirteen Saudis are still held in the notorious prison, lawyer Kateb Shammari who represents detainees' families said.
Three Saudi inmates held in Guantanamo allegedly committed suicide — two in June 2006 and the third in May 2007.
After the 2006 deaths, US officials stirred worldwide outrage by describing the two reported Saudi suicides and that of a Yemeni as "an act of asymmetric warfare" and "a good PR move" by terror suspects.
Human rights activists in Saudi Arabia have challenged the suicide theory cited by US authorities.

Russian sect members still in cave as leader tries suicide

by Kevin O'Flynn*

Russian authorities played a waiting game yesterday with members of a doomsday sect in a remote village who have barricaded themselves into a cave to await the end of the world.
As negotiations continued with 11 members of the sect holed up in the cave complex since November, attention turned to their leader, Pavel Kuznetsov, who has warned of approaching Apocalypse but never actually joined his followers in the cave.
On Wednesday evening the bearded leader was found beating himself over the head with a log in an apparent suicide attempt and was later hospitalised for a head injury, officials announced.
"It was an attempted suicide. Pyotr put his head on a tree stump and started hitting his head with a log. He is in hospital with a head wound," the Penza region's deputy governor, Oleg Melnichenko, was quoted on the website of NTV television as saying.
At a press conference in the regional capital a senior prosecutor, Grigory Zhitenev, said that "there is a motive for suicide, including that the end of the world has not come," Interfax reported.
Thirty-five sect members went into the cave in Nikolskoye, some 700 kilometres (435 miles) southeast of Moscow, last November, claiming that the end of the world would occur this May.
They have threatened to blow themselves up with cooking gas canisters if the authorities attempt force to make them come out.
Kuznetsov has been held in a psychiatric hospital for treatment but has been periodically released to help try to persuade fellow sect members to leave the cave, amid fears that it could collapse.
Yesterday morning other members of the sect visited the cave to try to persuade those inside to end their vigil.
A majority have been persuaded to leave in recent weeks.
Many of those who have left the cave continue to await the end of the world at Kuznetsov's wooden cottage in the village.
The sect members adhere to an extremely simple lifestyle, believing among other things that bar codes on food products are a symbol of the devil.
Kuznetsov spoke to his followers in the cave on Wednesday, persuading a mother and her two children to come out.
"Pyotr said God had collapsed the cave and to go against God is a great sin," Melnichenko said on Wednesday.
Officials have also brought in a priest specialising in apocalyptic literature to speak to the sect.
Kuznetsov's followers come from other parts of Russia and from Belarus, a neighbouring former Soviet republic. Villagers say the cultists would wander quietly around the village, dressed in long black robes.
Sect members who have come out of the cave have been able to clean themselves in a traditional Russian sauna after going months without running water. They have refused to talk to journalists.
They were even given a cow by local authorities after they said they could not use milk from cartons since they carried bar codes.
Rescuers on Wednesday used their hands to clear mud from the entrance of the cave to avoid further collapses. Doctors, psychologists, police and Orthodox priests were on standby near the cave.