Britain's has not done enough to secure release of Pakistani man in US military custody, say lawyers


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The Independent Online

Lawyers representing a Pakistani man who was captured by British special forces and transferred into American custody where he has spent eight years in jail without charge argued in court today that the government's attempt's to secure his release have been "woefully inadequate".

Yunus Rahmatullah was captured in south east Iraq in 2004 during a joint operation by British and American special forces. He was handed over the Americans and was secretly rendered to Afghanistan. He disappeared for years before lawyers managed to track him down to a prison in Bagram, and later Parwan. He has been judged to be a non-threat by an American military review board but still languishes in prison without charge.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed between London and Washington during the Iraq war, Britain is allowed to request the release of any suspect that is handed to the Americans should they wish to.

After years of denying responsibility for his capture, the British government were forced to try and seek Mr Rahmatullah’s release after the Court of Appeal issued a writ of habeus corpus. Washignton has refused to release Mr Rahmatullah, breaking the memorandum of understanding that was signed between the two countries. The British governmentthen returned to the Court of Appeal arguing that they had done all they could to try and free the Pakistani national.

Now lawyers for both the government and Mr Rahmatullah have gone to the Supreme Court for final judgement on the case. Mr Rahmatullah’s legal team argue that the government’s response via  a single letter to the Americans requesting his release was “woefully inadequate”.

The government, meanwhile, wants to overturn the Court of Appeal’s initial ruling that resulted in a habeus corpus writ for Mr Rahmatullah. They fear it will set a precedent allowing other detainees who were handed over the Americans to claim that Britain should make diplomatic moves to see them released.

The case will last two days and judgement is expected to be returned within the next two months.