Guantanamo detainee 'fit to travel to UK'

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The Independent Online

Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed is fit enough to travel to the UK should the US government agree to his release, the Foreign Office said today.

A team of British officials, including a doctor, met yesterday with Ethiopian-born Mohamed, who has refugee status in the UK.

Legal representatives hope he will be cleared for release and return to Britain within days by a review ordered by President Barack Obama.

An FCO spokesman said: "A team of British officials, including a doctor, met with Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed yesterday. They also met with medical staff at the facility.

"There are no immediate medical concerns that would prevent him from travelling to the UK, should the United States government agree to the UK's request for release and return.

"We hope this brings Mr Mohamed's release and return to the UK one step closer."

The officials left Miami Airport yesterday to visit the US prison camp on Cuba to make preparations for Mohamed's return.

Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said earlier this week that he believed their trip was to check that the detainee was fit to fly after the hunger strike he has maintained for more than a month.

He said no date for his client's release has been fixed but he hoped it would be in about a week.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order on January 22 establishing a review of all those held at Guantanamo.

Mr Mohamed, 30, is an Ethiopian Muslim convert who came to Britain in 1994 and was granted asylum.

He was arrested by American forces in Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of involvement in terrorism.

He claims he was secretly flown to Morocco and tortured before being moved to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in September 2004.

All terror charges against him were dropped last year but he remains in detention.

Announcing plans on Wednesday for the visit by UK officials, Foreign Secretary David Miliband stressed that his return to Britain was dependent on the outcome of the review process, but said the US administration had agreed to treat his case as a "priority".

Mohamed has said that he falsely confessed to a radioactive "dirty bomb" plot while being tortured in Morocco, and has claimed that Britain was complicit in his rendition and torture.

The torture allegations are at the heart of a continuing legal row after High Court judges complained that Mr Miliband had blocked them, for national security reasons, from making documents relating to his case public.

The Observer today reported that the Foreign Office solicited a letter from the US State Department which forced British judges to block publication of torture evidence.

The newspaper quoted a former senior State Department official as saying the letter was requested by the Foreign Office so it could be introduced in court proceedings.

The letter said the release of papers relating to Mohamed would damage future intelligence-sharing between the two countries.

In reponse, Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary Edward Davey said: "This could represent one of the most outrageous deceptions of Parliament, the judiciary and the British people.

"There must be an immediate investigation, with all related correspondence made public.

"The Foreign Secretary must not block publication this time."