Guarding the mujahedin
To the accompaniment of lawyerly howls, the British are questioning four of the five British citizens released from Guantanamo and returned to Britain yesterday. From the BBC, with thanks to Filtrat:
A lawyer representing two of the four Britons released from Guantanamo Bay has criticised their treatment as police began questioning the group.
A fifth man, Jamal Udeen, was released without charge after the men returned to the UK from Cuba on Tuesday night.
The US released the men – held as terrorism suspects for two years – saying they presented a low risk.
Gareth Peirce, who represents Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, said police were “compounding two years of injustice”.
She said Tuesday night’s procedures had gone on far too long, been unnecessary and protracted with fingerprinting continuing until after midnight.
“It was very clear that they should have been allowed to sleep long before they were and it was very clear that their cells were too cold,” she said.
Mr Rasul, 26, and Mr Iqbal, 22, are being held at the police station along with Ruhal Ahmed, 22, all of Tipton, West Midlands and Tarek Dergoul, 26, of east London.
But the National Co-ordinator for Terrorism, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, said normal British law and procedures would be followed “to the letter.”
Mr Ahmed’s father Riasoth told how his family was distraught at his son’s arrest after two years being held as a detainee.
Speaking outside his home in Tipton, Mr Ahmed said: “For 18 months, I have been saying he is not a terrorist. I want them to release my boy and I want to see my boy.”
He continued: “Do you think my family’s happy? My wife has been crying for the last 18 months and I am angry. They should let him go free.
He has still not managed to speak to his son since his release.
“My government have not given me a chance to see my boy.”
The men can be held for up to 14 days without charge under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Police will want to question them over alleged involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.
The four men were arrested by the Metropolitan Police who boarded their flight at RAF Northolt in north west London shortly after it landed on Tuesday night.
They were examined by medical teams before being questioned.
Mr Ahmed’s lawyer, Greg Powell, said it was “outrageous” a man who would have been very confused on returning to the UK after spending two years in detention had been arrested.
And Paul Quigley, a friend of Mr Ahmed’s family, said: “The family believe that if there were any evidence that Ruhal had done anything wrong, the Americans would already have used it against him”.
Meanwhile, Mr Udeen has been reunited with his family, according to a female relative.
His sister Maxine Fiddler has gone to meet him outside Manchester, said the woman speaking from Ms Fiddler’s home.
Earlier his solicitor, Robert Lizar, said the 37-year-old wanted the US authorities to answer “for the injustice he had suffered” and believed the UK authorities had been “complicit” in his detention questioning him while he is in Cuba.
Four other Britons – Feroz Abbasi, 23, Richard Belmar, 23, and Martin Mubanga, 29, all from London, plus Moazzam Begg, 36, from Birmingham – are still detained at Guantanamo Bay.
Home Secretary David Blunkett has indicated they would probably face trial in the US as they had been picked up “in the combat zone” in Afghanistan.