Friday 8 August 2003

Guantanamo inmate 'wants to stay'

The latest Russian tourist brochure just hit the shelves:

A Russian citizen held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has said he is afraid to return home because prison conditions there are far worse.

"I don't think there is even a sanatorium in Russia that would compare to this," Ayrat Vakhitov said in a letter to his mother published by Russia's Gazeta newspaper.

"Nobody is being beaten or humiliated," he wrote.

The mothers of Mr Vakhitov from Tatarstan and Rasul Kudayev from Kabarda-Balkaria strongly oppose the extradition of their sons to Russia, reports Itar-Tass news agency.

"I fear the Russian prisons and the Russian courts," Mr Vakhitov's mother Amina said.

She added that her son - a Chechen - went to his native republic after serving a year in prison in Russia "just to check things out".

Then he went on to Afghanistan, where he was detained by the Taleban, and later arrested by US troops.

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