Last British Gitmo Detainee Charged, Faces Death Penalty

Human Rights

U.S. military prosecutors Saturday charged the last British resident detained at Guantanamo Bay with conspiring to commit terrorism, according to British prisoners rights group Reprieve. Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian who sought refuge in Britain, has denied the charge. Mohamed was originally arrested in Pakistan and turned over to U.S. officials; he claims that in 2002 the U.S. transferred him to Moroccan agents, who tortured him; he was sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. In December, in a letter sent by his lawyer to UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, he asked the UK government to ensure that photographic evidence of his alleged torture be preserved. Earlier this month he sued the UK government for its alleged refusal to turn over evidence needed for his defense, but he has since submitted a plea to the government to use its influence and bring him back to Britain. Mohamed's case will now be referred to the U.S. military's Convening Authority, which must decide within 30 days whether to go forward with the case. Mohamed could face the death penalty if convicted. AFP has more.

For most of 2007, Mohamed was one of five UK residents detained at Guantanamo Bay. Three of those were released from U.S. custody in December. A fourth British resident, Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, a Saudi Arabian national, was to be returned there but his current status is unclear. Just a day before Mohamed's charging and in the face of continuing criticism of the slow pace of legal proceeding against Guantanamo prisoners, the vast majority of which remain uncharged, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in remarks to British students at the Oxford Union that legal processes should have been established earlier at the U.S. military prison.

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