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World Cup has truly captive audience at Guantanamo

Written by: Staff

GUANTANAMO BAY U S NAVAL BASE, June 29 (Reuters) A few dozen Guantanamo prisoners who refused to take part in a riot were rewarded with a chance to watch three World Cup soccer matches, their American captors said.

''We videotaped the games and took out the commercials, all the games Saudi Arabia played in,'' said Lt. Col. Mike Nicolucci, who functions as deputy warden in the U S detention camp for foreign terrorism suspects on the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba.

Viewing privileges were reserved for about 40 captives from Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan who live in group barracks in the medium-security section of the camp.

That section held about 175 captives until mid-May, when a riot broke out and detainees ambushed guards and attacked them with fan blades and light fixtures, guards said.

Those who took part were moved to spartan individual cells in maximum-security cellblocks, but the 40 remaining in the group housing had returned quietly to their barracks and shut the doors when the melee broke out, guards said.

Their reward was short-lived when Saudi Arabia lost to Spain on June 21, sealing a first-round exit after previous losses to Tunisia and Ukraine. Soccer is also hugely popular in Afghanistan, although it has never sent a team to the World Cup finals.

Reuters PM DB0921

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