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UK Resident Freed From Guantanamo Raises Torture Allegations

Binyam Mohamed, a British resident held at Guantanamo Bay for four years, has returned home to Britain and accused the US government of torturing him along with British collusion.

US military personnel inspect cells at Guantanamo

Mohamed was held in Guantanamo for more than four years

Mohamed was held for more than four years at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the US-run detention facility for terrorism suspects. He was returned to Britain on Monday, Feb. 23. After being questioned by British authorities, he was set free and was told he would face no further action.

"He's now been released full stop, that's the end of it," a Metropolitan Police spokesman told AFP news agency.

British intelligence accused of collusion

File photo of Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed claims he was tortured

But Mohamed's return raises uncomfortable questions for British intelligence. The former detainee has said British agents colluded with his "abusers."

He alleges that "people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence."

"It is still difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways -- all orchestrated by the United States government," he said in a statement released by his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith

The British government has repeatedly denied allegations that it was involved in any mistreatment.

Plenty of questions and no answers

Mohamed, 30, was born in Ethiopia, but holds British residency. While Mohamed has been granted temporary admission into Britain, it is possible that he will eventually be deported to Ethiopia.

"We have got to look at the details of the arrangements, but... we will do everything in our power to protect the security of people in our country and the home secretary will take whatever action is necessary," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband speaks during a meeting

Miliband wants Guantanamo closed

Mohamed was first arrested in 2002 in Pakistan. He was then taken to Morocco and Afghanistan before being sent to Guantanamo, where he was held for more than four years. Officials suspected him of having attended an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and of planning to build a radioactive "dirty bomb." He was never officially charged with any crime.

Mohamed has said that British officials questioned him in Pakistan and then turned the evidence over to "the people who were torturing me."

"The very worst moment came when I realized... the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realized, had allied themselves with my abusers."

Media calls for full explanation

Amnesty International has called for an independent inquiry into Britain's role in "secret detention and rendition programs."

The British media expressed alarm at Mohamed's allegations that Britain aided in his torture. But the newspapers said that Mohamed still had some questions he needed to answer.

In this photo, reviewed by the U.S. Military, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Bill Mesta replaces an official picture of outgoing President George W. Bush with that of newly- sworn-in U.S. President Barack Obama

President Obama has promised to close Guantanamo

"If Binyam Mohamed is correct in saying that British intelligence officers colluded in his torture, then that must be condemned unreservedly," the Daily Telegraph said in an editorial Tuesday.

"Nevertheless, this must not be used as a reason for failing to ask some searching questions about Mr. Mohamed himself."

The Times agreed that Mohamed had been "treated outrageously."

But, it added, "If he gives any cause for alarm, the government should lose no time in returning him to Ethiopia."

Efforts to close Guantanamo continue

Mohamed's release comes little more than one month after US President Barack Obama took office on a promise to close the prison at the US naval base in Cuba. The US has asked European governments to consider taking some of the prisoners.

"We very much welcome President Obama's commitment to close Guantanamo Bay and I see today's return of Binyam Mohamed as the first step towards that shared goal," Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Monday.

Barbed wire fence and bird at Guantanamo, Cuba

Human rights organizations have called conditions at Guantanamo "inhumane"

US Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement in Washington thanking the British government for its efforts in having the detainee transferred and urged other countries to play a role in helping the new administration close the camp.

"The friendship and assistance of the international community is vitally important as we work to close Guantanamo," said Holder, who embarked on a visit to the prison facility on Monday to review detention and interrogation policies.

"Inhumane conditions" alleged

With Mohamed's release, only one British resident remains in custody in Guantanamo. A Foreign Office spokesman said London has requested that Shaker Aamer be released, "but the US government has so far declined to agree on his return to the UK."

A new Pentagon report reviewing conditions at the detention camp said the facility is in line with Geneva Conventions. But it did call for easing the isolation of some inmates and allowing them to have more social contact and recreation.

That's not how one human rights group sees it.

Guantanamo detainees "continue to be held in inhumane conditions that violate US obligations under Geneva conventions, the US Constitution and international human rights law," the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights said in a statement.

Author: Trinity Hartman (afp/dpa)

Editor: Nick Amies

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