(AFP) – Feb 11, 2009
LONDON (AFP) — The United States has agreed to let British officials visit a Guantanamo detainee whose case has sparked protests and prepare for his return, Britain said Wednesday.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Britain wants the return of Binyam Mohamed "as soon as possible," noting US President Barack Obama last month ordered a review of the cases of all those detained at Guantanamo.
"Following our representations, the US administration have now agreed that Mr. Mohamed's case should be treated as a priority in this process. We continue to work with the US to achieve a swift resolution."
Washington agreed Tuesday that Foreign Office officials should visit Mohamed "as soon as possible," Miliband said. "The visit will help us make preparations for his return... should the review confirm a decision to release him."
He said the team would include a Metropolitan Police doctor, "who would take part in any return, so that he may assess Mohamed's condition himself and report back.
"We are working as fast and hard as we can to secure Mr Mohamed's release from Guantanamo and return to the UK. We want him to be released as soon as possible," Miliband added.
Supporters of Mohamed, a former British resident, stepped up their fight Wednesday to secure his release in a case that threatens to embarrass the new US administration.
His US military lawyer Yvonne Bradley said Ethiopian-born Mohamed went on a hunger strike February 5 to protest his detention without charge and is being force-fed through a tube.
Mohamed, 29, was "nothing but skin and bones," Bradley said, when she visited him two weeks ago at the US military detention centre in Cuba where he has been held since 2004.
"Mr. Mohamed will leave Guantanamo Bay two ways if people don't act," she told a press conference in London. "Either insane, because that is slowly what's happening to him, or in a coffin because his condition is declining."
Last week, Miliband denied the United States had threatened to review intelligence-sharing arrangements with Britain if evidence about alleged torture was released.
He spoke after two British judges called for the government to release "powerful evidence" provided by US intelligence services about Mohamed's interrogation.
US Congressman Bill Delahunt, the chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee on international organisations, human rights and oversight, was to give evidence on the rendition issue to British lawmakers later in the day.
He has called for Britain and the United States to release the evidence on Mohamed, which amounts to seven paragraphs in a document.
"I take offence at the idea that secrecy is being maintained in order to preserve national security," Delahunt said in a statement released by Mohamed's supporters.
"The treatment of detainees has done great harm to the security of both our nations," he added.
Obama agreed to close Guantanamo in one of his first acts after taking office last month.
Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 before being taken to Morocco and Afghanistan, and then on to Guantanamo.
He was suspected of attending an Al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and of plotting to build a radioactive 'dirty' bomb, but he has never been charged.
British lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who has championed Mohamed's case, maintains that he would not represent any security threat to Britain or the United States if released.
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