What lies ahead for Binyam Mohamed?

As the Guantanamo detainee returns to Britain, Richard Osley looks at the uncertainties he faces in adjusting to normal life after years of imprisonment

He will no longer have to wear the orange jumpsuit that has been his garb for the past four and a half years. It is just one small adjustment among the myriad changes that Binyam Mohamed will cope with as he leaves incarceration in Cuba for a future of fear and uncertainty.

The former Guantanamo Bay prisoner is due to fly into RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire tomorrow. Instead of being raced to an interrogation by anti-terrorism officers, he will almost certainly to be taken to hospital. At some stage, the 30-year-old will answer questions, but there is little prospect of any charges being brought. This week, his medical condition will be the chief priority.

Recently described as “just skin and bones”, Mr Mohamed has been left looking emaciated after a five-week hunger strike. A doctor will sit next to him throughout the flight home. He has paid a heavy price for his freedom: it was refusing food that sharpened the focus on his claims of torture at the hands of US authorities, the conditions at Guantanamo and his lack of opportunity for a legal appeal. Any “evidence” of links with terrorist groups, he said, was forced out of him in a “dark prison” in Kabul and a torture chamber in Morocco before he was sent to the prison camp in Cuba.

His release was confirmed by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, on Friday night.

By late tomorrow or early Tuesday, Mr Mohamed is likely to be free for the first time since he was arrested at Karachi airport in 2002, while allegedly using a false passport. Although born in Ethiopia, he was given leave to stay in the UK in 1994 as a teenage asylum-seeker. His travels to Pakistan and Afghanistan – explained by him as an attempt to get away from a bad circle of friends in London – led to US suspicions that he had been involved in al-Qa’ida training camps and a “dirty bomb” plot to attack America. Mr Mohamed denies the claims, and says he was abused during his detention: the alleged torture included cutting his penis with a scalpel and hanging him in the air by a leather strap.

He is reluctant to go to hospital. He will need psychiatric help to readjust to a world without eye masks, barbed wire, handcuffs and armed guards. Lord Carlile, the Lib Dem peer who has led an independent review of the UK’s terror laws, said yesterday: “I would expect a light and gentle touch to be applied to ensure that he is given every opportunity, subject to law, to integrate himself back into British society. There is no doubt he has suffered.”

Mr Mohamed will follow in the footsteps of eight other British residents who have been released from Guantanamo. Moazzam Begg, a bookseller from Birmingham who spent nearly three years in the camp without ever being charged, wrote a book about his harrowing experiences. But he is exceptional in his resilience against the mental scars inflicted in the prison.

Other former inmates have looked to blend quietly back into everyday life. “There is no rehabilitation programme, nothing as far as the Government is concerned, which helps to reintroduce this person into normal society,” Mr Begg told a radio interviewer. “In the case of somebody who returns to this country where he has no family members, it’s going to be doubly difficult.”

Mr Mohamed is said to want to get to “somewhere quiet”. It is unclear where he will stay, and there could be legal action over his right to stay in the country. He has no family here: his brother and sister live in the US. And he has a lost touch with many of the friends he made while studying.

Kate Allen, from Amnesty International, said last night: “The immediate focus should now be on providing medical and other support for Binyam.”

Mr Mohamed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, said: “He wants to go somewhere extremely quiet and have nothing to do with anyone. Binyam wants nothing more than to return to normal life in Britain.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Business Development Manager / Sales

£30 - 40k (£65k Y1 OTE Uncapped): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Business Deve...

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

Guru Careers: Solutions Consultant

£30 - 40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Solutions Consultan...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before