UK resident at Guantanamo 'fit to travel'

 

A British resident held at the US prison at Guantnamo Bay is well enough to travel to Britain if a request to release him is approved, the Foreign Office (FCO) in Britain said today.

British officials, including a doctor, visited Binyam Mohamed, who has been on hunger strike since January, on Saturday.

"They also met with medical staff at the facility. There are no immediate medical concerns that would prevent him from travelling to the UK, should the United States government agree to the UK's request for release and return," the FCO said in a statement.

"We hope this brings Mr Mohamed's release and return to the UK one step closer."

Mr Mohamed has been in custody for five years. His US military lawyer said he had lost so much weight that his health was at risk and he was being force-fed.

"I was totally shocked by his condition," she told members of Britain's parliament and the media, saying she had last seen him on January 28th. "I have serious concerns that he could die," Lieutenant-Colonel Yvonne Bradley said on Wednesday.

The visit follows a move by US president Barack Obama to prioritise a review of Mr Mohamed's case and could lay the ground for Mr Mohamed, who says he was tortured by foreign agents while in US detention, to be returned to Britain.

Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002. He says he was then flown to Morocco on a CIA plane and held for 18 months, during which he says he was repeatedly tortured, including having his penis cut with a knife.

Morocco has denied holding him. He was transferred to Afghanistan in 2004 and later moved to Guantnamo, US authorities have said. Washington denies that he was subjected to rendition or torture.

One of Mr Obama's first acts as president was to announce that Guantnamo, widely viewed as a stain on the United States' human rights record, would be shut down.

The prison was set up at a US military base in Cuba to hold captives from the "war on terror" launched after the September 11th, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Mr Mohamed's case has attracted widespread publicity in Britain because US legal authorities have fought to prevent evidence being released that his lawyers say shows he was tortured. The evidence is contained in documents held in Britain.

Britain's high court ruled last week the evidence should not be released as it could lead to reduced intelligence cooperation with the United States and prejudice Britain's national security.

Reuters