cry me a river By SAM CAGE, Associated Press Writer GENEVA - U.N. human rights experts Friday expressed concern about possible "irreversible psychiatric symptoms" developing among suspected terrorists entering a fourth year of virtual solitary confinement at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The experts on arbitrary detention noted allegations that detainees at Guantanamo may be subject to "inhuman and degrading treatment." Human rights officials have expressed concern about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. A secret report obtained by The Associated Press found that guards punched some detainees, tied one to a gurney for questioning and forced a dozen to strip from the waist down. One squad was all-female, traumatizing some Muslim prisoners, according to the report that summarized what investigators saw when they viewed 20 hours of videotapes of the squads. "The conditions of detention, especially of those in solitary confinement, place the detainees at significant risk of psychiatric deterioration, possibly including the development of irreversible psychiatric symptoms," the U.N. experts said in a statement. "Many of the inmates are completing their third year of virtually incommunicado detention, without legal assistance or information as to the expected duration of their detention." The experts noted some positive developments at Guantanamo in 2004, including the release of a number of inmates. "These developments are, however, insufficient to dispel the serious concerns," they said. U.S. authorities said they were treating the Guantanamo prisoners consistent with the Geneva Conventions, though they say the accords do not apply to the detainees, claiming they are "enemy combatants" as opposed to prisoners of war. The experts noted that the conflicts in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites) both ended more than 18 months ago, yet prisoners are still being detained in violation of the Third Geneva Convention, which states that prisoners of war must be released "without delay after the end of hostilities." "The legal basis for the continued detention of the Guantanamo Bay inmates is therefore unclear," they said. "In any event, many of them were arrested in countries which were not parties to any armed conflict involving the United States." No immediate comment was available from the U.S. Mission to U.N. offices in Geneva, but American officials have previously said the detainees were being held because they are combatants against the United States in the global war on terrorism and not limited to any national conflict. The number of the detainees and their names are still unknown, which "is extremely disconcerting and is conducive to the unacknowledged transfer of inmates to other, often secret, detention facilities," the experts noted. They also said the lack of legal clarity over the prisoners' status left uncertainty as to how long they would be kept in detention. The human rights officials have twice sought an invitation from the U.S. government to visit Guantanamo to examine the legal aspects of the detention. The United States has not yet agreed to the request, but "has indicated an interest in establishing a dialogue with the experts to consider the possibility of a visit," they said.