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British resident gets UK help with Guantanamo release, others press court case

[JURIST] The British government said Wednesday it would take up the case of one British resident currently held by the US at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], but stood by its decision not to intervene on behalf of five others. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] announced it would help Iraqi-born Bisher al-Rawi the same day as al-Rawi and fellow detainees Jamil el-Banna and Omar Deghayes returned to the High Court to seek a ruling that would compel the British government to push the United States for their release. The FCO indicated al-Rawi's circumstances were different but did not explain what his different circumstances were. Last week, Mr. Justice Collins ruled [JURIST report] that he would allow the legal action on behalf the UK residents detained at Guantanamo Bay, reasoning in part that there were substantial inconsistencies between the US definition of torture and that held by Britain and "most civilized countries." The men are all long-term British residents but are not UK citizens.

In response to growing concern [JURIST report] over the status of the British residents being held at Guantanamo Bay, Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested [AFP report] last week that it might be best for the US to close the detention facility. The last UK nationals interned at Guantanamo were transferred to the UK [JURIST report] by US authorities in January 2005 and later released. Reuters has more on Wednesday's hearing.

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