Britain: Officials to visit Guantanamo detainee

By: By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer
By: By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON (AP) - British officials will travel to the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay to visit a hunger-striking detainee and help make preparations for his release, the foreign secretary said Wednesday.

David Miliband said the team, which will include a doctor from London's police department, will check on the health of Binyam Mohamed, a former British resident who alleges he has been the victim of torture.

Terrorism charges against Mohamed were dropped last year. He has been on hunger strike for more than a month to protest his detention.

Mohamed, 30, was born in Ethiopia but moved to Britain as a young man. He has been held in Guantanamo since 2004.

"The visit will help us make preparations for his return," Miliband said in a statement on Wednesday, after a meeting with Mohamed's lawyer, Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley.

The Obama administration is moving to close the prison camp in eastern Cuba and undertaking a review to make sure the 245 suspects remaining there are given international and U.S. legal rights. That review largely will determine whether the terror suspects should be tried in U.S. courts or released to other countries.

Lithuania's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday the Baltic country is considering taking in up to 10 prisoners being held at the prison camp, which opened in January 2002. Lithuania is a staunch U.S. ally that joined NATO and the European Union in 2004.

British officials have been granted access to Mohamed in Guantanamo on only one other occasion, in July, the Foreign Office said.

Miliband did not specify when the officials would travel, but said it would be soon. A government official, who demanded anonymity to discuss the issue, said the team would likely travel to Guantanamo next week.

A Foreign Office spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, said the team won't bring Mohamed back to Britain immediately. But Miliband said the government is pressing the U.S. to quickly clear Mohamed for release.

"We have long been concerned by reports of Mr. Mohamed's medical condition," Miliband said.

Bradley spent a second day meeting lawmakers and officials in London in the hope that they will press the Obama administration to clear Mohamed for release.

"Mr. Mohamed's going to walk out of Guantanamo Bay ... in (one of) two ways, if people don't act - either insane, because of all that's been happening to him, or in a coffin because his condition is declining," Bradley told a news conference in London.

In a court hearing last week, two British justices said that U.S. intelligence documents detailing Mohamed's alleged mistreatment must be kept secret.

The justices said that the documents could not be made public because of Miliband's concern that disclosing the material could damage the intelligence-sharing relationship between London and Washington.

Senior Justices John Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones said in their ruling that the documents detailed Mohamed's treatment and suggested possible British complicity.

"By failing to seek the disclosure of evidence of torture, the foreign secretary is putting the British government in an extremely questionable position, and feeding the suspicions that it has something to hide," lawmaker Edward Davey, a Liberal Democrat, said in a statement on Wednesday.


Associated Press Writer Dean Carson contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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