Guantanamo detainee 'back in UK next week'

A British resident held at Guantanamo Bay for more than four years is expected to be flown back to the UK early next week.

The UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband said today the UK and US governments had "reached agreement" on the transfer of Binyam Mohamed.

The detainee will be returned to Britain "as soon as the practical arrangements can be made", Mr Miliband said in a statement.



Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed, 30, has been held at the controversial US military detention centre at Guantanamo Bay 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 detainee, who lived in London before his arrest in Pakistan in 2002, alleges he was tortured into falsely confessing to terrorist activities and claims MI5 officers were complicit in his abuse.

No date has been confirmed for his return to Britain, but reports suggest it could be as early as Monday.

Mr Miliband said today: "The UK and US governments have reached agreement on the transfer of Binyam Mohamed from Guantanamo Bay to the UK.

"He will be returned as soon as the practical arrangements can be made.

"This result follows recent discussions between the British and US governments and a medical assessment, undertaken by a UK doctor, that Mr Mohamed is medically fit to return."

The detainee's return to Britain does not constitute a commitment from from Home Secretary that he can remain in the UK permanently, he added.

Mr Miliband said: "His immigration status will be reviewed following his return and the same security considerations will apply to him as would apply to any other foreign national in this country.

"As always, all appropriate steps will be taken to protect national security."

Mr Mohamed claims after being detained in Pakistan he was secretly flown to Morocco and tortured before being moved to Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo Bay.

The US accused him of involvement in a radioactive "dirty bomb" plot, but all terror charges against him were dropped last year.

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 torture allegations are also at the heart of an ongoing legal row after two High Court judges complained they were blocked by Mr Miliband from making public information relating to Mr Mohamed's case for national security reasons.



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 interagency 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."



Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Edward Davey said Mr Mohamed's release was "long overdue".

He said: "With Mr Mohamed back in the UK, the Government will have to come clean over any British role in his alleged rendition and torture.

"If Mr Mohamed's allegations are true, as is widely suspected, then he will not only be a victim of illegal rendition and torture, but a crucial witness to a grave crime and a damaging cover-up by the American Government and possibly the British Government too.

"The Attorney General has a huge responsibility on her shoulders.

"There can be no political influence into the direction of this investigation. Britain's international reputation is on the line. The only way we can move forward is through open justice."



Mr Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, director of legal charity Reprieve, welcomed the news.

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.

Kate Allen, the human rights group's UK director, said: "It's nothing short of a disgrace that Binyam has been held in harsh conditions for all these years, having to resort to a hunger strike to raise awareness of his plight.

"The immediate focus should now be on providing medical and other support for Binyam on his return to the UK.

"But we also need a proper independent inquiry into Binyam's case and allegations of a cover-up over torture, as well as into the wider practice of rendition and secret detention."



The Shadow foreign secretary William Hague called for the publication of a section of a High Court judgment about Mr Mohamed's treatment which has so far been kept secret.

He said: "Now that the United States government has decided to release Binyam Mohamed, there is no reason for the Government not to ask the US to allow the controversial paragraphs related to his case to be published.

"The serious questions about the British Government's role in Binyam Mohamed's detention will not simply go away.

"Publishing these paragraphs would allow speculation to be brought to an end."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea