[JURIST] British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw [official profile] has announced in the House of Commons that the last four Britons held by the US at the terror suspect detention camp at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST Hot Topic] will be released in a few weeks. UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith [official profile] talked to the BBC this morning about the four - Moazzam Begg [Cageprisoners.com file] from Birmingham, and Martin Mubanga, Richard Belmar and Feroz Abbasi from London - whose release he said the government had "long sought." Listen to his interview [RealPlayer audio] on BBC Radio 4's Today program. In October last year it was learned [BBC News report] that Begg had written a letter to the US authorities [PDF copy; transcript] in July complaining of torture, death threats, solitary confinement and being detained without charge. In March last year the US released the five other British citizens in Guantanamo detention; on arrival in the UK they were questioned by police but later were all released without charge. In October four of them sued the US [JURIST report] for their detention. BBC News has more.
In a related development Tuesday, Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock [official profile] announced that Australian terror suspect Mamdouh Habib, who recently claimed in court papers that the US transfered him from Pakistan to Egypt for torture [JURIST report], will soon be released without charge from US custody at Guantanamo. Read the full text of the Australian AG's statement on Habib's release. AP has more
8:32 AM ET - The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office has now released the transcript of the Foreign Secretary's remarks:
Following contacts between the UK and the US, involving in particular my Right Honourable Friend the Prime Minister and his office, and between US Secretary of State Colin Powell and myself, the US Government has now agreed to the return of all four men to the United Kingdom. That decision follows intensive and complex discussions to address US security concerns. All the families have been informed of this decision this morning, as, Mr Speaker, have their MP's.Read the full text of Straw's statement to the Commons.
The four men will be returned in the next few weeks. Once they are back in the UK, the police will consider whether to arrest them under the Terrorism Act 2000 for questioning in connection with possible terrorist activity. Any subsequent action will be a matter for the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
11:15 AM ET - The US Defense Department has issued this press release on the pending detainee transfers, indicating that "the governments of the United Kingdom and Australia have accepted responsibility for these individuals and will work to prevent them from engaging in or otherwise supporting terrorist activities in the future."