A British resident who claims he was tortured while held captive by America is expected to be reunited with his family and friends next week after the United States government approved his release.
Binyam Mohamed, 31, who lived in north Kensington, west London, is being held in Guantanamo Bay and will be flown to a UK a military air base. The Ethiopian refugee has been held at the US military detention centre on Cuba since September 2004.
He went on a hunger strike for more than a month at the start of this year and was described by his legal team as “close to starvation”. A team of British officials who travelled to Guantanamo Bay last weekend said he was well enough to travel back to the UK.
The Government had been pressing the Bush administration for Mr Mohamed’s release but only made headway in the case after Mr Obama’s election to office.
Mr Mohamed has said that he falsely confessed to a radioactive “dirty bomb” plot while being tortured in Morocco, and 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 David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, had blocked them, for national security reasons, from making documents relating to his case public.
The Attorney General is consulting the Director of Public Prosecutions over whether to order a criminal investigation into claims that intelligence and security agents were involved in torturing him. The US Department of Justice declined to comment on the individual case of Mr Mohamed.
A spokesman for the department said: “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on the transfer of any detainee, unless and until a transfer has actually occurred. A comprehensive inter-agency review of each of the detainees at Guantanamo is under way, and we do not want to prejudge the outcome of that review. However, we will undoubtedly need the assistance of our close friends and allies as we work towards closing Guantanamo.”
Mr Mohamed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, head of a legal charity called Reprieve, welcomed the news that his client was returning to Britain. He said: “This is truly wonderful news for Binyam Mohamed, who wants nothing more than to return to normal life in Britain. The Foreign Office have worked long and hard to secure Binyam’s release from Guantanamo Bay. We thank them for their efforts on Binyam’s behalf and to those in the Obama administration who assisted them.”
Amnesty International called on the Government to press for the release of other Guantanamo Bay detainees with links to the UK. Mr Mohamed is one of three remaining detainees who claim British residency and are held in the camp.
Reprieve can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org