Guantánamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed released back to Britain

February 23, 2009

Image of Binyam Mohammed

After a long battle with the US authorities, Reprieve is pleased to announce that Binyam Mohamed has been released from Guantanamo Bay and will today arrive in Britain.

He will be met by a doctor and his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith and Gareth Pierce, together with family and friends who will take him to a quiet place to recover from his ordeal.

Binyam’s sister Zuhra, who travelled to London to meet him, said: “I am so glad and so happy, more than words can express. I am so thankful for everything that was done for Binyam to make this day come true.”

Mr. Mohamed is a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture. He was initially held illegally in Pakistan for four months, which is where a British intelligence agent interrogated him under circumstances later found to be illegal by the British courts. He was rendered to Morocco by the CIA on July 21, 2002, where he was tortured for 18 months, with the British government supplying information and questions used by the Moroccan torturers. On January 21, 2004, he was rendered a second time, to the secret “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan, where his torture continued. Since September 2004, he has been held in Guantánamo Bay. He has never been tried for any crime.

“We hope and expect that the government will allow Binyam’s immediate release,” said Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith. “He is a victim who has suffered more than any human being should ever suffer. He just wants to go somewhere very quiet and try to recover. Every moment that he is held compounds the abuse he has endured.”

For the past several weeks, Mr. Mohamed has been on hunger strike against the continuing abuse he was subjected to in Guantánamo Bay.

Mr. Mohamed specifically asked all media covering his release to thank all those in Britain who have worked for his freedom, including many members of the British government.

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact Clive Stafford Smith (07940 347125; clivess@mac.com); or Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Three prisoners with British connections remain in Guantánamo Bay. All have been cleared for release.

Shaker Aamer, a British resident, whose wife and children are British nationals living in London, remains in solitary confinement – where he has been since 2005. A committed family man, he has never seen his youngest child and wants nothing more than to be a father again.

Ahmed Belbacha is an Algerian national and former British resident in his seventh year of imprisonment without charge. From the US military’s perspective, he could leave Guantánamo tomorrow. But Ahmed so fears what awaits him in Algeria that he has opted to wait in Guantánamo—even in Camp Six, the prison’s most grim isolation wing—until another country offers him refuge.

Farhi Saeed bin Mohammed is an Algerian citizen who left Algeria to seek freedom and greater economic opportunities in Europe and was captured and sold to U.S. soldiers in Pakistan after fleeing from Afghanistan. A peaceful and religious man, Farhi Saeed has lived in France, Italy, and the U.K. and would like to return to Europe to work after he is released from Guantánamo. He was cleared for transfer in 2007.

Reprieve calls on the British government to press for the immediate release of these prisoners, and to offer them a home.

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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