Guantanamo detainee close to returning to UK

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The Independent Online

A UK resident held in Guantanamo Bay for four years could return to Britain within days after the Government said that Foreign Office officials would be visiting the US naval base in Cuba to help arrange a "swift" release.

Binyam Mohamed, 31, an Ethiopian, came to Britain as an asylum-seeker at the age of 16 and was given temporary residence. He worked as a caretaker in west London before going to Afghan-istan and Pakistan in 2001, in order, he said, to resolve his drug addiction.

Pakistani forces held him in April 2002 as he tried to return to the UK. He was questioned by CIA and MI5 officers before being flown by the Americans to Morocco, where he claims he was tortured. Eighteen months later he was sent to a prison in Afghanistan, then taken to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. Last year, the terror charges against him were dropped.

He is one of three remaining detainees who claim British residency held in the "war on terror" detention camp.

In a statement released after a meeting with Mr Mohamed's US military lawyer, Lt-Col Yvonne Bradley, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said Mr Mohamed's return would depend on the outcome of a review of Guantanamo cases begun by President Barack Obama. But he said the US administration had agreed to treat Mr Mohamed's case as "a priority".

In his statement, Mr Miliband revealed that the team of Foreign Office officials due to visit Mr Mohamed "as soon as possible" will be joined by a Met Police doctor, who will accompany the detainee to the UK if he is released.

Mr Mohamed has said he falsely confessed to a "dirty bomb" plot while being tortured in a Moroccan prison. He has claimed that Britain was complicit in his rendition and torture. The torture claims were at the heart of a row last week after High Court judges said Mr Miliband had blocked them, for national security reasons, from making papers relating to his case public.