DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Most of the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp are Saudis and Saudi Arabia wants their citizens back.
A Saudi official Monday said more than 100 Saudis are among the men being held at the U.S. Naval base prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef also said that Saudi Arabia wants its detained citizens to be handed over so it can interrogate them.
"I know about them but we don't know the charges against them, except that they were arrested in Afghanistan," Nayef said "The issue of prisoners is important to us and we ask that they be handed over to us so we can interrogate them, since they fall under the kingdom's regulations."
The disclosure by Nayef was the most specific number given so far by Saudi officials and would mean that citizens from the Persian Gulf kingdom make up the bulk of the 158 people being detained at the base.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers of the passenger jets which crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 were Saudis, according to U.S. officials. Saudi officials insist no Saudi involvement has been proven. Usama bin Laden, whose Al Qaeda terror network is accused in the Sept. 11 attacks, was a Saudi national until his citizenship was revoked in the 1990s.
At the Pentagon, spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said Monday that the nationalities of all the prisoners' had not yet been determined. U.S. officials have said they are considering sending some of the prisoners to their homelands on condition their governments punish them. Some may be tried by the United States for alleged involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks and other terrorism.
Asked about handing over Saudi citizens, Clarke said prisoners would be repatriated to "those countries that we feel will handle them appropriately."
"We have no desire to hold on to large numbers of detainees of any kind for any great length of time. But we want to make sure these people are not back out on the streets," she said.
Nayef said the Saudi government was in touch with the United States and hoped for U.S. cooperation concerning Saudis being held at Guantanamo.
Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally in the Middle East, has come under criticism in the United States from some who say the Saudi government has done too little to crack down on terrorists and extremists within its borders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.