Briton is among caged Taliban

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A British man is among the al-Qa'ida and Taliban captives being held prisoner by the US at Guantanamo naval base in Cuba, it was disclosed last night, as international criticism mounted about their treatment.

The man is one of 20 airlifted from Afghanistan on Friday. They are the first of an expected 2,000 to be transported to the top-security naval base, which is surrounded by shark-infested waters, two electrified razor wire fences and a minefield.

British diplomats have requested access to the prisoner, and sought guarantees about his treatment.

The prisoners are in make-shift buildings measuring six feet by eight, made up of chain-link fences with a roof, in razor-wire pens. Each compound is lit 24 hours a day, and the prisoners will have only a mat on the concrete floor.

The first batch arrived at "Camp X-Ray" after a 20-hour flight by cargo plane from Kandahar. Photographs showed them looking disorientated and weak, and wearing orange jumpsuits.

They will stay in the open-air cells before – in all probability – being sent before military tribunals.

Last night General Michael Lehnert, the US officer in charge of the detentions, said the men would be kept in "humane but not comfortable" conditions.

An Amnesty spokesman said the "cages" in which the prisoners would live fell below the minimum standards for humane treatment.