UK resident released from Guantanamo

[JURIST] British resident and Iraqi citizen Bisher al-Rawi [Wikipedia profile] was released this weekend from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] after nearly five years in custody as an enemy combatant. Officials have not confirmed the exact time of al-Rawi's release, but he issued a statement Sunday from his family's home in London. Al-Rawi expressed his happiness to be free and described his "nightmare" at Guantanamo: "Allegations are made against you that are laughably untrue, but you have no chance to prove them wrong. There is no trial, no fair legal process." Al-Rawi was also regretful that his "best friend" Jamil al-Banna [Wikipedia profile] remains imprisoned at Guantanamo.

Al-Rawi and al-Banna, also a UK resident, were originally suspected of ties to al Qaeda because of their alleged connection with radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada [BBC profile]. The men were arrested returning to the UK from Gambia with a suspicious electronic device, which they claimed was a battery charger, and were taken into US custody. Despite a general refusal to represent resident aliens at Guantanamo, the British government agreed to help secure al Rawi's release [JURIST report] last year after learning that al-Rawi had previously aided British security service MI5 [official website]. UK Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett announced al-Rawi's impending release [JURIST report] last Thursday; no official comments have been made regarding al-Banna's status. BBC News has more. AP has additional coverage.



 

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