This is first, Brown asks US to free 5 British residents from Gitmo

Britain has asked the U.S. to release five British prisoners from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, the Foreign Office said Tuesday, a move that suggests new Prime Minister Gordon Brown will take a harder line on the issue than his predecessor.

This is first, Brown asks US to free 5 British residents from Gitmo

Britain has asked the U.S. to release five British prisoners from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, the Foreign Office said Tuesday, a move that suggests new Prime Minister Gordon Brown will take a harder line on the issue than his predecessor.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking that the men be freed, after Britain refused for several years to intervene in the cases.

The men — Saudi Arabian national Shaker Aamer, Jordanian Jamil el-Banna, Libyan-born Omar Deghayes, Ethiopian national Binyam Mohamed and Algerian Abdennour Sameur — had all been granted refugee status, indefinite leave or exceptional leave to remain in Britain before they were detained, the statement said.

"Discussions with the U.S. government about the release and return of these five men may take some time," it said.

There may be security considerations when the men are returned, and the British government will "take all necessary measures to maintain national security," the Foreign Office said.

Brown has hardened Britain's position over Guantanamo Bay, after ex-leader Tony Blair refused to press the U.S. to release the men. In March, foreign office minister Kim Howells insisted Blair's government could not intervene in the cases of the former residents.

In April, Bisher al-Rawi, a 37-year-old Iraqi national and British resident, was released from the camp after five years in detention. But British officials only took up al-Rawi's case after it was disclosed he had provided assistance before his detention to MI5, Britain's domestic spy agency.

Al-Rawi's U.S. lawyer, George Brent Mickum IV, said last year that al-Rawi had agreed, during one of at least six interviews with British agents at Guantanamo, to work for the British security service in exchange for his release. Nothing came of the offer, Mickum said.

El-Banna was arrested with Al-Rawi by Gambian authorities in November 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo, Amnesty International said. It said Deghayes and Aamer were captured in Pakistan in 2002.

Campaign group Reprieve claims Mohamed was held in Morocco for 18 months after being captured in April 2002 in Pakistan and later sent to Guantanamo. Amnesty International said the circumstances of Sameur's detention were not immediately clear.

AP

Last Mod: 07 Ağustos 2007, 17:47
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