Protesters around world call for closure of Guantanamo prison

Demonstrations were held around the world on Thursday to press the Bush administration to close the prison at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay.

Demonstrations were held around the world on Thursday to press the Bush administrationto close the prison at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Protesters gatheredincities such as London, Rome, Tokyo and New York.

In Washington, D.C., about 100 protesters were arrested inside a federal courthouse, though they had a permit to gather at the building and a judge had allowed them to demonstrate inside the facility.

The arrests came after they started waving signs in the building, contrary to guidelines imposed by a U.S. marshal.

Five years ago, the first prisoners from the U.S. war on terror were flown from Afghanistan to the naval base in Guantanamo Bay.

Close to 400 prisoners suspected of having links to the militant group al-Qaeda and the Taliban are still being held at the base.

The European Union, among other bodies,has called for the prison to be closed.

Guantanamo Bay has become a lightning rod for criticism, with human rights activists sayingthe prisoners are being heldwithout chargeor hope of obtaining a fair trial.

Activistshave also complainedabout the treatment of prisoners, alleging that somedetaineeshave been tortured to extract confessions.

At least one Canadian is known to still be imprisoned at the base. Omar Khadr, sent to Guantanamo Bay when he was just 15,has been accused ofkilling a U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan in July 2002.

One Australianstill being held

In Melbourne, about 80 protesters participated in Thursday's rally.

David Hicks, a former kangaroo skinner from southern Australia, is the only inmate from Australia still being held.

During the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, the Northern Alliance captured Hicks and handed him over to U.S. forces. He was taken to Guantanamo, where he continues to await trial.

Hicks, 31 and a father of two, was charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit war crimes and aiding the enemy, and was chosen to face a U.S. military tribunal.

But the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the tribunals at the naval base are illegal and his legal status is now uncertain.

Military trials may start in summer

The U.S. military has said it plans to charge 60 to 80 of theprisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and military trialscould start next summer.

But many of thedetainees may never be tried by a military court, and under the U.S. Military Commissions Act, which President Bush signedlast October, theycould be deprived of the right to contest their imprisonment in a civilian court.

The prisoners could appeal to the U.S. military's Annual Review Board, which could determine whetheror not they pose a threat to the U.S. or whether theyare considered valuable to U.S. intelligence services.

In the past five years, the U.S. military has released or transferred about 380 Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

With files from the Associated Press