Tue, Feb 24, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Guantanamo inmate to head to UK after release: attorney


A Guantanamo Bay inmate who claims he was tortured while in US custody was scheduled to be released yesterday and returned to Britain, his lawyer said.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and former British resident, has been kept at the military prison camp in Cuba even though terrorism charges against him were dropped last October.

His release had been widely anticipated after US President Barack Obama took office pledging to close Guantanamo and return as many detainees as possible to their home countries. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has been lobbying for Mohamed’s return to Britain since 2007.

Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith said on Sunday he was “confident it will happen on Monday.”

Stafford Smith acts as Mohamed’s civilian lawyer. Military lawyer Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Bradley said she had no confirmation of when her client was due to return to Britain. She said she was often the last person to know what the US government was doing with Mohamed.

“You’d think counsel would know, but this is what I’ve been dealing with for the last three years,” Bradley said.

Mohamed, 30, who moved to Britain as a refugee when he was 15, was arrested in Pakistan on a visa violation and turned over to US authorities, said rights group Reprieve, which Stafford Smith directs.

Mohamed alleges he was beaten in Pakistan and tortured in Morocco and Afghanistan before being moved to the US facility in Cuba in September 2004. Washington has never publicly acknowledged extraordinary renditions to places such as Morocco and still refuses to say where Mohamed was before he was taken to Guantanamo.

Although Britain’s Foreign Office released a statement on Friday saying Mohamed would be returned to the UK “as soon as the practical arrangements can be made” it has repeatedly declined to say exactly when he is expected back.

Stafford Smith said he did not know the details of Mohamed’s release. He could not say when exactly Mohamed would arrive or where in Britain Mohamed would be taken, although he noted that other Guantanamo inmates had been flown into London’s Luton Airport or the Brize Norton Royal Air Force base near Oxford.

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