UK balking at US bid to return British residents from Guantanamo: report

UK balking at US bid to return British residents from Guantanamo: report

[JURIST] The US and UK governments have been discussing the release of nine British residents [JURIST report] currently being held at the US prison base in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], but the British government has so far refused to accept the men, saying that US demands for continued surveillance of the prisoners after their hand-over are unnecessary and unworkable, the Guardian reported Tuesday. The British paper obtained documents from private discussions between the two governments and witness statements offered by UK Director General of Defense David Richmond and UK Home Office [official website] Director of Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence William Nye. Nye is reported as saying the nine men, who have been held at Guantanamo Bay for over four years without charge, do not pose a sufficient threat to justify using MI5 [official website] resources to monitor them when more dangerous terrorist suspects are a threat to the UK's national security.

The UK has agreed to allow only one prisoner to return – Bisher al-Rawi [JURIST report; Wikipedia profile], who assisted MI5 in the eventual arrest of al Qaeda suspect Abu Qatada [BBC profile]. Families of other long-time UK residents held at Guantanamo Bay are seeking an order [JURIST report] requiring the British government to lobby the US for the release of their relatives. Last month, lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer [Reprieve profile], also a UK resident before being captured by US forces, filed a motion [PDF text; JURIST report] in US court seeking Aamer's release from solitary confinement, arguing that Aamer's year-long isolation violates the Geneva Conventions. The Guardian has more.