Free the five and give them full British citizenship

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THE UK government has requested the release of five British residents from US custody at Guantanamo Bay, something which the Blair government, in which Gordon Brown played a central role, refused to do.

The men are not British citizens but lived in the UK before they were detained by the US.

The Blair government had refused to act on behalf of the five men – a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal last year, which agreed that requesting the return of non-British nationals would be counter-productive as the US had clearly said it would not negotiate with third countries.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday formally wrote to his US counterpart Condoleezza Rice with a request, which it is believed that the US administration will accede to, after the US Supreme Court ruled that the Guantanamo Bay camp, where men are held without charge or trial, is illegal as far as US law is concerned.

The torture centre has outlived its usefulness.

Far from being an act of rebellion, Miliband, acting for Brown, and after sounding out Bush during Brown’s recent love-in with the US leader, is seeking to help George Bush out, while attempting to get some praise with an appearance of suddenly discovering ‘independence’.

In fact, Bush has already said that he is seeking to shut down Guantanamo Bay because it has become a hindrance and is not a help.

The five British residents covered by the request are Shaker Abdur-Raheem Aamer, Jamil el-Banna, Omar Deghayes, Binyam Mohammed al Habashi and Abdulnour Sameur.

They were all either granted refugee status, indefinite leave or exceptional leave to remain in Britain prior to their detention, in some cases many years prior to their detention.

The News Line calls for their immediate release, and that they should receive full financial compensation for their illegal imprisonment by the US and British governments, and proper medical care to assist them recover from their nightmarish experience.

They must also have full freedom to resume their residency in Britain and, after their horrific experiences, should be offered British nationality.

They must not be subject to any illegal actions here whether it be house arrest or other forms of internment, or electronic tagging or monitoring.

However, the likely course of the British government is that, as soon as the US prisoners are handed over, it will seek to hand them on to their former governments, who will put them on trial after torturing confessions out of them, regardless of how many assurances that they give that they do not torture prisoners.

The British government stated yesterday that ‘Should these men be returned to the UK, the same security considerations and actions will apply to them as would apply to any other foreign national in this country.’

So it is to be either accept a form of internment without trial or be handed over to the government of their country of origin.

The British government also explained why it had made the request of Bush. It said it was because of recent steps taken by the US government to reduce the number of inmates at the camp in Cuba and ‘to move towards the closure of the detention facility’.

It added: ‘These steps include an increasing emphasis on engagement with third countries over the transfer and resettlement of those detained.’

This means a return to the country of origin, torture and imprisonment.

The British working class and the trade unions must insist that after their horrific experiences the five men must be given British citizenship and be allowed to remain in this country as free men. Nothing else will suffice.