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Afghan Gitmo Detainee Denies Fighting

An Afghan detainee pleaded for his freedom Thursday before the first military review tribunal opened to observers, saying he had a Taliban (search)-issued rifle but never fought against Americans.

The 31-year-old detainee in orange garb sat before the three-member panel, hands bound and feet chained to a metal ring in the floor, as he spoke quietly through a Pashto interpreter.

"I surrendered myself to Americans because I believed Americans are for human rights," he said. "I had never heard Americans mistreated anybody in the past."

It was the ninth review hearing at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay (search) since the process began a week ago, but the first that journalists were allowed to attend. The panels may reverse assessments that some detainees are "enemy combatants" (search), a classification that — unlike prisoners of war status — provides detainees fewer legal protections under international law.