The process to return the British residents to the UK could take some time - it
took just over a year for Bisher El-Rawi to return - and thus the campaign for
their return will continue (to press the government to act to speed up the
process). Please note that it took just over a year for Bisher El-Rawi to be returned to the UK and Ahmed Belbacha who is still facing being returned to Algeria is not included on this list
The London Gunatanamo Campaign will continue holding weekly demonstrations (the next one is today, 6pm) outside the US Embassy in London until the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay under the so-called War on Terror closes down permanently.
The next London Guantánamo Campaign meeting will be on Saturday 18 August at 3-5pm at Cafe Gigi in the Willesden Green Library Centre, High Street NW10.
PRESS RELEASE: TUESDAY 07 AUGUST 2007
GUANTANAMO BAY: FORMER UK RESIDENTS
The Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary have decided to request the release from Guantanamo Bay and return to the UK of five men who, whilst not UK Nationals, were legally resident here prior to their detention. The Foreign Secretary has written today to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to formally make this
The Government welcomes recent steps taken by the US Government to reduce the numbers of those detained at Guantanamo Bay and to move towards the closure of the detention facility. These steps include an increasing emphasis on engagement with third countries over the transfer and resettlement of those detained.
The Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary have reviewed the Government's approach to this group of individuals in light of these ongoing developments, our long-held policy aim of securing the closure of Guantanamo Bay, and the need to maintain national security. They have decided to request the release and return of the five detainees who have links to the UK as former residents, having been granted refugee status, indefinite leave or exceptional leave to remain prior to their detention: Mr Shaker Aamer, Mr Jamil El Banna, Mr Omar Deghayes, Mr Binyam Mohamed and Mr Abdennour Sameur. Our representations are limited to those with links to the United Kingdom as evidenced by their past lawful residence here.
Discussions with the US Government about the release and return of these five men may take some time. The Government will of course continue to take all necessary measures to maintain national security. Should these men be returned to the UK, the same security considerations and actions will apply to them as would apply to any other foreign national in this country.
Notes for Editors
By January 2005, the Government had secured the release and return of all the UK nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay. But we have not, so far, requested the
release and return of this group of individuals. The Government's decision not to
do so was upheld by High Court and Court of Appeal rulings last year.
The Courts accepted our judgement that requesting the return of individuals who
were not British nationals would have been ineffective: the US had made clear
that they did not intend to negotiate with third countries regarding non-nationals. We judged that it would also have been counter-productive, at that time, to our wider aim of securing closure of the detention facility. As set out above, the situation has now changed and the Foreign Secretary and Home Secretary have reviewed the Government's approach in light of these circumstances.
FCO Press Office: 020 7008 3100
Tel: 020 7353 4640
Fax: 020 7353 4641
Embargo: immediate release (August 7, 2007, 11:00 am)
British Government to seek return of Five British residents from Guantánamo Bay
Reprieve congratulates the Brown government on a significant break with previous
The Foreign Office announced today that the government was seeking the return of five British residents from Guantánamo Bay, all prisoners represented by Reprieve in their challenges to their illegal detention The men are:
Shaker Aamer, a London resident originally from Saudi Arabia. Shaker has four
British children awaiting his return in South London, one of whom was born after
his captivity. Because he lived in Britain for many years and speaks eloquent
English, Shaker has been a spokesman for the prisoners. For this he has been
severely punished, and has been held in solitary confinement for almost two years,
since September 2005. He has been on a hunger strike since December 2006.
Omar Deghayes, for 20 years a resident of Brighton and refugee from Libya, whose father was tortured and murdered by Col. Gaddafi in 1980. Omar, who has been blinded in his right eye while in U.S. custody, was being held by the U.S. based on a videotape that purported to prove that he was a Chechen rebel. Omar denied that he had ever been to Chechnya, and his Reprieve lawyers, assisted by BBC Newsnight, long since proved the videotape was not him.
Jamil el Banna, a refugee from Jordan, who was seized in the Gambia with Bisher al Rawi, another British resident returned home two months ago. Jamil has five children who await his return, one of whom – like Shaker – he has never seen.
Binyam Mohamed, who lived in Kensington and had applied for asylum from Ethiopia. The U.S. became convinced, erroneously, that this janitor from London was involved in terrorism and the CIA rendered him to Morocco, where his 18 months of torture included a razor blade to the penis. Binyam’s story has provoked horror around the world.
Abdennour Sameur, recognised by the UK as a refugee from Algeria. Abdennour
worked in a hotel in Bournemouth, and was once generously tipped by John Prescott, MP, for his excellent work during the Labour Party Conference.
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Legal Director, said:
“I congratulate the Brown government on a huge step in the right direction. At
last we are seeing an ethical foreign policy, action rather than words. Respect
for human rights is our first, best protection against terrorism, because when you
stand for justice, there are fewer people who want to blow you up, and more who
respect you and want to assist you. When the British government enforces human
rights, we have some chance of healing the rift with the Islamic world. The Brown
government sees that it is one thing to criticise the nightmare that is Guantánamo
Bay, but the U.S. cannot close the prison unless European countries step up and
allow refugees to come home.”
Zachary Katznelson, Reprieve Senior Counsel, said:
“I cannot tell you how happy this makes their children, families and friends who
have prayed for these men every night for more than five years. These are five
men, some of whom have lived, worked and loved in Britain for decades. For five
years they have undergone the horror of torture and abuse. Now, at last, they
have the power of the British government on their side.”
For further information or interviews, please call the Reprieve press office on
020 7131 3609.
Amnesty International UK
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY 7 AUGUST 2007
GUANTANAMO: GOVERNMENT DECISION TO INTERVENE FOR UK RESIDENTS WELCOMED
˜Travesty of justice" condemned and UK urged to speak out
Responding to today's news that the UK government will make representations for the return to Britain of five UK residents imprisoned at the US detention centre at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Amnesty International has this morning welcomed the decision and called for early action to achieve the men's freedom.
The Foreign Office and the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith have announced that they will request the return to the UK of Jamil el-Banna, Omar Deghayes, Shaker Abdur Raheem Aamer, Binyam Mohammed and Abdennour Sameur.
Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:
"This is hugely welcome news for the men and their families after all these years of
suffering and uncertainty - and the government should now move quickly.
"We've been saying for several years that the UK should have been seeking the fair
trial or safe release of the UK residents imprisoned at Guantanamo.
"Guantanamo is a travesty of justice and it's important that the government starts
speaking out about hundreds of men still held there - they must not become
Guantanamo's forgotten prisoners.
"Meanwhile, the UK government should unequivocally condemn the practice of
˜rendition" and secret detention - both of which have "fed" the system at Guantanamo in the past five years."
Amnesty International has been campaigning for the fair trial or safe release of all
370 prisoners at Guantanamo, including the five UK residents named today as well as a further UK resident - Ahmed Belbacha - about whom little is known, The
organisation will now be making representations with the UK government over this
Amnesty International UK media information:
Neil Durkin: 020 7033 1547, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eulette Ewart: 020 7033 1552, email@example.com
Out of hours: 07721 398984, www.amnesty.org.uk
Save Omar Campaign Press Release
Campaign welcomes request for release of British Residents in Guantánamo: Omar is coming home. Great news but too early to celebrate.
The campaign to free Omar Deghayes welcome today’s news but we expect arrangements to be made promptly for the release of the residents. Now that the UK government have finally recognised their responsibility for these men, they must act swiftly. Omar has lost more than 5 years of his life in Guantánamo, partially due to the UK government's lack of action. A delay such as the 11 months between requests for Bisher Al Rawi's release and his actual return to the UK would be unjustifiable. The FCO have already said they are expecting discussions with the US to take some time but we will continue campaigning to ensure that such a delay is not allowed
Paddy O'Keeffe of the Save Omar campaign stated:
"It is great news but it is too early to celebrate. We need answers to the
following very practical issues. We want to know exactly when Omar will be
returned and that he is coming back in safety to Brighton. We would like to know
more about the timescale and the process of release for all British residents and,
indeed, that all are being released. We think there is at least one not included
on the list of five. Justice must not be delayed any longer. Finally, of course,
Guantánamo must close."
Abubaker Deghayes, brother of Omar, stated:
"Omar is coming home. It is the news we have been waiting for. We want to thank
all those people who supported my brother. I understand the Foreign Office has
said there has been a change of US policy and is willing to deal with 'third'
countries. This change as well as the change of heart in the British Government
would not have happened without our campaign and all those people who stood with
us for justice."
For more details on Omar Deghayes’ case, or comments on the latest developments
please contact: Jackie 07799 564620, Louise 07799362 884, Paddy 07768 105864
save-omar.org.uk for further resources