British al-Qa'ida suspects should be tried in UK - Straw

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Indy Politics

Captured Britons suspected of belonging to the terrorist al–Qa'ida network should be returned to Britain to stand trial, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said today.

Three British fighters are among suspected al–Qa'ida and Taliban members captured in Afghanistan and now being held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Britain had previously said it would leave Washington to decide when and how the three should stand trial.

But critics have expressed fears that they may be tried by secret US military tribunals. Human rights groups are concerned that Washington is reserving the right to try the captives on its own terms and have criticised the Pentagon's decision to regard them "unlawful combatants" instead of "prisoners of war" – a designation that would iprovide protection under the Geneva Convention.

"It is far preferable, if they are British citizens, for them to come to the United Kingdom and face justice here," Mr Straw said on BBC radio.

"We don't know the exact circumstances and we continue to be in discussion with the United States."

Condemnation of the treatment of prisoners at Camp X–Ray has grown since photos released by the US Defence Department showed terrorist suspects wearing blacked–out goggles, earmuffs, masks over their mouths and noses and mittens on their hands.