Four British residents are to be freed from Guantanamo Bay, after being held without charge for 5 years. They are Jamil el-Banna, a father of 5 from London; Abdenour Samuer, who fled from persecution in Algeria and was given political asylum in the UK; Omar Deghayes, a 37 year old man who was born in Libya and came to Britain as a child after his father was murdered; and Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, a Saudi national with a British wife.
Although the men are not British citizens, they have long, established links with the UK. But until August this year, the government refused them representation. Then foreign secretary David Miliband responded to growing criticism of the government’s position, and wrote to Condaleezza Rice requesting their release.
They will be returning to Britain, except Shaker Aamer who is going to Saudi Arabia.
Jamil el-Banna, a Jordanian, was on a business trip to Gambia. MI5 had approached him, asking him to work for them; then, a few days later they told the CIA that Banna’s travelling companion was carrying bomb materials. This was not true, but the CIA grabbed him and flew him to Guantanamo.
Omar Deghayes had studied law at Wolverhampton University and in Huddersfield. His family says that he condemns terrorism. He has been blinded in one eye by a US soldier during his imprisonment.
Another UK resident, Binyam Mohammed al-Habashi from Ethiopia, is to stay in Guantánamo. The Pentagon claims he is particularly dangerous and it is determined that he face one of the military commissions established to prosecute prisoners in the camp. And another former UK resident, Ahmed Belbacha, has not even been mentioned in the reports.
Amnesty International urgently wants to find out why these 2 men are not being freed after 5 years of being held with no charge. And David Miliband should do what he can to get them freed. After all, if they were truly dangerous, wouldn’t they have been tried in court by now?