Posted by: Lister | March 30, 2007

Bisher al-Rawi release

From the BBC.

Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi national and British resident, is to be released from GBay. He’s spent 5 years in Gitmo after being arrested in Gambia with his business partner Jamil el-Banna.

Kingston and Surbiton MP Edward Davey, who has been campaigning on behalf of his constituent, welcomed the news.

“I am relieved that after nearly five years in prison without charge or trial, my constituent is now being released from Guantanamo Bay,” he said.

Mr Davey said that everything he had learned from Mr al-Rawi’s family, lawyers and government officials showed he was not and never had been a “threat to national or international security”.

[…]Amnesty International UK said Mr al-Rawi’s release was a “huge relief”, but said the UK had played a “shadowy role” in Mr Al-Rawi and Mr el-Banna’s arrests, and urged an independent inquiry into any UK complicity with Guantanamo detentions.

[…] Zachary Katznelson, of UK charity Reprieve, visited Mr al-Rawi in Guantanamo last month.

“He has been in isolation now 13 months and it has taken its toll on him. But he was doing much better because the end was in sight and that was giving him strength,” he said.

Mr al-Rawi reportedly came to England in 1985 after his father was arrested by Saddam Hussein’s secret police.

He had lived in the UK for nearly 20 years. His immediate family are UK nationals, but he retained Iraqi citizenship.

There has been no signal that his friend, Mr el-Banna, will also be released.

In January, his 10-year-old son joined a Downing Street protest urging the prime minister to lobby for both men’s release.

His MP, Sarah Teather, for Brent East, said: “Both have been detained and tortured with no respect for international law.

“The British government now have a clear moral duty to intervene on behalf of Jamil.”

The Independent has more details on the involvement of MI5. Their front cover “FREED, HELD, MISSING”, refers to al-Rawi, the 15 sailors and Alan Johnston.

Bisher al-Rawi, 39, whose family escaped persecution in Iraq to live in London, was on a business trip when he was arrested in the Gambia after a tip-off by the Security Service, MI5.

[…] Zachary Katznelson, a lawyer for the UK-based charity Reprieve, who has represented the residents during their detention, said the decision to free his client showed there was no “justification or excuse” for not negotiating the freedom of the other men.

He said he thought the decision to help Mr Rawi was only taken because the Government did not want an embarrassing court case in which Britain’s involvement in his capture would have been made public.

The High Court in London has already permitted the disclosure of classified documents linking MI5 to Mr Rawi’s arrest.

Mr Katznelson said: “Mr Rawi helped MI5 as an interpreter and acted as a go-between with Abu Qatada [a terror suspect later arrested and detained by the British authorities]. All this would have… been very embarrassing for the government and… MI5.”

[…] British residents held in Guantanamo Bay

Jordanian. In Guantanamo since March 2003. Arrested, with Bisher al-Rawi, in the Gambia.

Ethiopian. In Guantanamo since September 2004. Indefinite leave to remain in UK. Travelled to Afghanistan in 2001.

Saudi Arabian. In Guantanamo since February 2002. Was applying for British nationality. Seized in Pakistan in 2002.

Libyan. In Guantanamo since August 2002. Allegedly appears on a “Chechnyan training video”.

Moroccan. In Guantanamo since May 2002. Worked in UK for 18 years. Accused of attending a terrorist training camp in 2001.

Algerian. In Guantanamo since March 2002. Alleged to have attended a training camp.

Algerian. In Guantanamo since June 2002. Went to Afghanistan in 2001 and was shot in Pakistan.

Uganda. In Guantanamo for more than three years. Was travelling in Pakistan when he was seized.


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