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UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND: BINYAM MOHAMED: RELEASE ‘NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON’ - OTHERS MUST NOT LANGUISH AT GUANTANAMO

20 Feb 2009
Region: UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
Topic: Fight Against Terrorism and Human Rights
Denial of Amnesty ‘fan mail’ cards just one example of ‘psychological abuse’

Responding to reports today that the UK resident Binyam Mohamed is soon to be released from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Amnesty International welcomed the news but called for other prisoners to also be immediately released or allowed fair trials.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“It’s a huge relief that Binyam Mohamed is finally getting out of Guantanamo - but his release won’t be a moment too soon.

“It’s nothing short of a disgrace that Binyam has been held in harsh conditions for all these years, having to resort to a hunger strike to raise awareness of his plight.

“The immediate focus should now be on providing medical and other support for Binyam on his return to the UK, but we also need a proper independent inquiry into Binyam’s case and allegations of a cover-up over torture, as well as into the wider practice of rendition and secret detention.

“The UK government should also now press for the release of Shaker Aamer and Ahmed Belbacha - two other men with longstanding links to the UK - and it should assist moves to close the camp by offering ‘humanitarian protection’ to vulnerable prisoners who need a place to go to.”

Speaking of Binyam Mohamed’s present weakened state, his US military lawyer Yvonne Bradley said:

“I’ve seen the constant decline in his physical and mental health in the three years that I’ve been representing Binyam at Guantanamo and I’m naturally very concerned for his future welfare.

“I’ve repeatedly requested a full mental health evaluation from the camp authorities for Binyam, but they’ve flatly refused. It’s now time for Binyam to get expert healthcare in aiding his full recovery from what has been an unbelievable personal ordeal for him.”

Amnesty International supporters have long campaigned for Binyam Mohamed and other prisoners at Guantanamo, including by sending hundreds of “greetings cards” to him and other prisoners.

However, Binyam’s US military lawyer recently confirmed that he has had no correspondence delivered to his cell for nearly a year, with camp guards specifically denying him what they refer to as his “fan mail”. Binyam’s lawyer has described this manipulation of Binyam’s emotions as just one example of a battery of “psychological abuse” by guards in his case.

Some 240 prisoners are still held at the prison camp, with an estimated 50 currently on hunger strike - many being force-fed. Some 60 men are known to be at risk of torture or persecution if returned to their home countries, and while the US may permit some of the men to be admitted to the US mainland the remaining detainees are likely to need “humanitarian protection” in other countries upon release.

Note to editors
A new interview of Yvonne Bradley speaking about Binyam Mohamed’s case can be watched and downloaded from:
www.amnesty.org.uk

20 FEBRUARY 2009

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