Friday, 30 May 2008
The last Briton in Guantanamo faces death penalty
The last Briton in Guantanamo faces death penalty----After being held
prisoner by the US for 6 years, inmate to be charged with terrorism
offences despite protesting his innocence
A British resident who is facing the death penalty in Guantanamo Bay has
made a final desperate plea to Gordon Brown to end his 6-year ordeal and
bring him home today.
In a letter delivered to Downing Street, Binyam Mohamed, the last
Guantanamo inmate with the automatic right to British residency, calls
the Prime Minister to use his influence with President George Bush to
an American military "kangaroo court" sending him to his death.
Mr Mohamed, 29, from Kensington, west London, who is expected to be
charged by the Americans with terrorism-related offences in the next few
days, claims he has suffered horrific abuse during more than six years
detention without trial.
He denies any involvement with terrorism and says any evidence against
has been extracted through torture while he was being questioned by
American interrogators in a Moroccan prison.
In his letter, Mr Mohamed tells Mr Brown: "I have been held without
by the US for 6 years, 1 month and 12 days. That is 2,234 days (very
days and often longer nights). Of this, about 550 days were in a torture
chamber in Morocco and about 150 in the 'Dark Prison' in Kabul. Still
there is no end in sight, no prospect of a fair trial."
He blames Britain for supplying the Americans with personal information
which was used against him when he was being questioned in Morocco and
where he claims his interrogators used a razor to repeatedly cut his
genitals.Mr Mohamed also alleges that the British Government is refusing
to release vital evidence that would prove he was tortured.
Last year, three of the remaining 5 British residents held at Guantanamo
Bay were flown home after representations were made by London. A 4th
elected to negotiate his transfer to Saudi Arabia.
But the US has refused to comply with Britain's request to release Mr
Mohamed. In his letter, he pleads: "Because I am a Londoner, your
Government states publicly that you support my right to return home
as soon as possible. I am grateful for that. I always viewed Britain as
the country that stood up for human rights more than any other. That was
why I came to Britain as a refugee."
But he adds: "Before the intervention of your Government to help me, I
more resigned to my fate. To be held forever without a fair trial. When
your Government intervened, I had hope. But it has been a cruel hope. 9
months later, I am still here, no closer to home, still in this terrible
prison. When I learned that my Moroccan torturers were using information
supplied by British intelligence, I felt deeply betrayed. When I learned
that your Government's lawyers [The Treasury Solicitors] had told my
lawyers they had no duty to help prove my innocence, or even that I had
been tortured, I felt betrayed again."
Born in Ethiopia in 1978, Mr Mohamed came to Britain as an asylum-seeker
in 1994 when he was 16. Although the claim was never finally determined,
he was given leave to remain in Britain, where he stayed for the next 7
years. But, after working as a caretaker, he developed a drug habit and,
according to his legal team, went travelling to Pakistan and Afghanistan
in 2001 in a bid to resolve his personal issues. He was picked up in
Pakistan in April 2002 as he attempted to return to Britain. His lawyer,
Clive Stafford Smith, director of the human rights group Reprieve, said
the UK Government has admitted he was questioned by British intelligence
for three hours in Karachi in 2002.
According to Mr Mohamed's evidence, the security service officer
to him then that he was to be taken to an Arab country something his
lawyers say shows British knowledge of the plan to render him to
They also believe that flight records relating to the Indian Ocean
of Diego Garcia could establish the route of his rendition flight.
Should Mr Mohamed be sent to trial at the Military Commission, the case
will further strain relations between Britain and America. The UK is
opposed to capital punishment and has been increasingly critical of the
treatment of prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay.
Both Tony Blair and Mr Brown have called for the closure of the prison
camp at the US naval base in Cuba which still holds nearly 300 inmates,
many of whom have been unlawfully detained for more than 5 years.
The former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, also expressed concerns
the legally flawed system of the military tribunals, set up to try
citizens and which one law lord likened to "kangaroo courts". Any
convictions supported by findings from the military commissions are
to provoke an international outcry. Human rights lawyers regard the
tribunals as an affront to natural justice because they do not comply
the rules to ensure a defendant receives a fair trial.
Mr Mohamed's own account of the abuse he claims to have suffered
a graphic account of being tortured in Morocco: "They cut all over my
body, including my private parts, saying it was better just to cut it
as I would only breed terrorists. This went on for weeks every day. I
like I was being stung by a million bees at once. The floor was full of
blood ... All this time they kept reading out their [story] to me and
saying if you say this story as we read it, you will just go to court
all this torture will stop. I could not take any more of this torture
after months of torture, I repeated what was read out to me. That
some of the torture but it was not over."
Recent medical reports indicate Mr Mohamed may have reached the end of
psychological tether. In his letter to Mr Brown, Mr Mohamed writes: "It
long past time to end this matter. I have been next to committing
this past while. That would be one way to end it, I suppose."
The men who have been released
One of the so-called 'Tipton 3' detained in 2002 for over 2 years by the
US, in Afghanistan and Camp Delta. Released March 2004
Born in West Bromwich and left school at 16 to work in a local factory.
Released March 2004
Born in Dudley, West Midlands, he travelled to Pakistan in October 2001.
Family lost contact in December 2001. Released March 2004.
Born in Entebbe, Uganda. Released on 25 January 2005.
Former care worker in east London. Told family he was flying to Pakistan
in 2001 to learn Arabic. Released March 2004.
Web designer from Manchester. Believed to have been captured while a
Taliban prisoner in Kandahar Jail. Released in March 2004.
Ran a bookshop in Sparkhill, Birmingham. Released January 2005.
Algerian deserter who came to Britain in 1999. Granted refugee status in
UK in 2000. Released December 2007.
Joint citizen of both the UK and Zambia. Released January 2005.
Accused of association with the Taliban and al-Qa'ida. Released January
Iraqi citizen, who became resident in the UK in the 1980s. Released
Jordanian with refugee status in the UK. Rel-eased December 2007.
Libyan granted refugee status by the UK in the 1980s. Released December
Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer
Originally from Saudi Arabia, living in UK since 1996. Release being
negotiated by Saudi Arabia.
(source: The Independent)