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Red Cross launches Afghan prisoner videochats

Prisoners held at the United States military base at Bagram in Afghanistan have spoken with their families for the first time as a result of a Red Cross initiative.

The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Monday that together with the US military it had launched a system for video-teleconference calls.

Before the video chats began on January 6, prisoners at Bagram Air Base were unable to talk to anyone outside the detention facility. The Red Cross is still urging the US to allow face-to-face visits.

The families of some of the 600-650 prisoners held at the detention facility at the air base, 50 kilometres north of the capital Kabul, arrived at the Red Cross offices in Kabul on Monday to talk to their family members and see them on small television screens for about 20 minutes.

Red Cross delegates have been visiting the detention facility at Bagram Air Base since 2002. Their reports on prison conditions are kept secret.

The US military spokesman at Bagram was not immediately available for comment.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR