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More Detainees Leave Kandahar for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Aired February 8, 2002 - 013:23   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Time to get some insight on what's happening in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Our Martin Savidge is standing by there. He's got word on another flight of detainees leaving that country. Marty, what's the word?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Leon. It was about 10 minutes ago that the C-17 aircraft lifted off into the darkened sky at the Kandahar Airport here. It all began around 12:30 Eastern time for you. It would have been around 10:00 at night here when the C-17 landed. As is usual with the detainee transfers, the ramp area is kept completely in darkness. The only movement you can see are the blue glow sticks that are attached to the soldiers that provide the security.

They are -- the detainees, I should say, are moved out in groups of three. Usually 10 per group. They are handcuffed and shackled, and, usually, they are tied together by the handcuffs in groups of 10. They wait in the glow or the red glow of the ramp lights at the back of the C-17, and then slowly and carefully, one by one, they are led aboard the aircraft until the whole process is done.

It takes about 45 minutes, and then, once that is completed, the aircraft backs into position, moves out on to the taxiway and then takes off. For many of these detainees, it is bound to be a fearful process for them, because many of them have probably never even been on a airplane, let alone flown on such a long journey.

It is now a journey that usually takes about 24 hours. And will eventually end with them arriving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Leon?

HARRIS: Well, Martin, with the dispatch of this particular group of detainees, do we know how many now are left on the ground there in Afghanistan?

SAVIDGE: Well, they've become rather crafty in giving out the numbers. It used to be they would tell you how many numbers were actually being held here at the detainee facility. Now they've decided that that might be giving out a little too much information to unfriendlies. So when they give out a number, they will say, "This is the amount of detainees being held theater-wide.

This morning, that count was at 269. We will wait to see tomorrow what the count will be. But presumably, unless someone else has come in, which we have not heard about, it should be roughly around 239 that would be said to be in the theater. Leon?

HARRIS: Got you, Marty. And thank you. We're still waiting on that Pentagon press briefing, and perhaps we'll find out there. Martin Savidge reporting live for us on the telephone from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Thank you very much.

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