[Ppnews] Guantanamo detainee arrives in UK

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 23 12:55:58 EST 2009

Guantanamo detainee arrives in UK


Binyam Mohamed was held at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years 
without charge [BBC NEWS]

Binyam Mohamed, a former British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, has 
arrived in the United Kingdom after being released from the United 
States prison camp.

Mohamed, who landed at RAF Northolt in London, has spent seven years 
in US captivity without charge, with more than four of those at the 
camp in Cuba.

He claims he was tortured in custody, after being arrested in 
Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of training and plotting to set off a 
radioactive bomb.

Mohamed, whose British residency has expired, was accompanied by UK 
police officers and could be sent back to his native Ethiopia.

US accused

In a statement, Mohamed said: "I have been through an experience that 
I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares.

"Before this ordeal, 'torture' was an abstract word for me. I could 
never have imagined that I would be its victim.

"It is difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from 
one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways, all 
orchestrated by the United States government."

Clive Stafford Smith, Mohamed's lawyer and the founder of Reprieve, a 
UK-based legal action charity, said he hoped the British government 
would "allow Binyam's immediate release".

Stafford Smith said: "He is a victim who has suffered more than any 
human being should ever suffer.

"He just wants to go somewhere very quiet and try to recover. Every 
moment that he is held compounds the abuse he has endured."

Immigration status

In a statement, Reprieve said Mohamed said he wished to thank "all 
those in Britain who have worked for his freedom, including many 
members of the British government".


  Barack Obama has signed an executive order to close the prison at 
Guantanamo Bay [AFP]
Binyam's sister Zuhra said she was "so glad and so happy, more than 
words can express".

"I am so thankful for everything that was done for Binyam to make 
this day come true," she said.

In his statement, Mohamed accused the British government of colluding 
with foreign governments during his alleged abuse and torture.

He said: "For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in 
Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving 
questions and materials from British intelligence.

"I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open 
with them. Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my 
rescue, I later realised, had allied themselves with my abusers."

Mohamed originally entered the UK as an Ethiopian refugee when he was 
a teenager and British authorities say they will review his 
immigration status when he returns to the country.

Hunger strike

The decision to release Mohamed follows a formal request by London to 
Washington in August 2007, asking for the remaining five British 
residents held at the camp on Cuba to be released.

The transfer will be the first of a Guantanamo prisoner since Barack 
Obama, the US president, who has pledged to close the camp, took 
office last month.

Mohamed says he was tortured and abused by foreign agents while in 
custody in Pakistan and later in Morocco, before being transferred to 
Guantanamo in 2004.

But Washington has denied that he was subjected to "extraordinary 
rendition", and Morocco said it never held him.

British diplomats and a doctor travelled to Guantanamo Bay more than 
a week ago to assess Mohamed's medical condition.

He had been on a hunger strike for more than a month and his lawyers 
were concerned that he could die.

Mohamed was persuaded to end his hunger strike and assessed to be 
healthy enough to be flown back to Britain.

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