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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Pressed Over Al-Qaida Captives

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- The treatment of detained terrorist suspects from the Afghanistan war is getting more scrutiny from the international community and a federal judge in Los Angeles.

U.S. District Court Judge A. Howard Matz set a Tuesday hearing for a petition filed by a coalition of Los Angeles clergy, journalism professors, civil rights attorneys, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.

The first court challenge of the detention of al-Qaida suspects at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base demands that the U.S. government bring the suspects before a court and define the charges against them.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross demanded the detainees be given prisoner-of-war status subject to the Geneva Conventions, and Sweden called for the fair treatment of a Swedish captive.

"In the fight [against terrorism] we need to uphold our norms and values," said Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Jozias van Aartsen. "That applies to prisoners, too."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair tried to defuse London accusations of torture at the base, saying through a spokesman Monday that three Britons among the detainees say they have no complaints about their treatment.

The number of detainees at the base in remote Cuba rose to 158 with Monday's arrival of 14 battle-scarred fighters on stretchers, including two amputees and three with infections.

The military C-141 cargo plane carrying them was the sixth flight bringing detainees from the U.S. base at Kandahar in Afghanistan, where 218 detainees remain. The 14 prisoners were carried from the aircraft by Marines in yellow rubber gloves and turquoise surgical masks.

The Marines seemed to frisk the captives before carrying them to a bus. The detainees wore blacked-out goggles and orange jumpsuits, and appeared to have their arms strapped to their bodies.

"They were restrained in a manner appropriate, in a way that would not aggravate their medical conditions," said Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Brendan McPherson.

U.S. officials say security is needed because some captives have threatened to kill their American guards.

Similar photographs of detainees kneeling on rocky earth, published by the U.S. Department of Defense on Friday, provoked protests in Britain.

U.S. military officials say the precautions are taken during the flight for security reasons and are removed once prisoners are processed and led to a cell. They refused to say Monday whether they have begun interrogating detainees, who have not been allowed lawyers.

The Red Cross said Monday it considers the detainees prisoners of war, and the photographs violate a Geneva Convention protecting them from "public curiosity."

"Such pictures should not be disseminated. They could have a strong impact on the family and the Muslim community worldwide," spokesman Darcy Christen said in Geneva.

Recognizing the detainees as prisoners of war would mean trying them under the same procedures as U.S. soldiers -- by court-martial or civilian courts, not military tribunals.