LONDON — A former British resident who has been on hunger strike at the Guantanamo Bay prison since December 29th is now a “priority” case for review by the Obama administration and could return to Britain soon, the Foreign Secretary said Wednesday.
In a statement released after he met in London with a U.S. military attorney who is part of Binyam Mohamed's defense team, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said that the U.S. government has agreed to let a British delegation visit Mohamed "as soon as possible." A police doctor will be part of the delegation in order to assess Mohamed's health and fitness to travel.
Later Wednesday the military attorney, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Yvonne Bradley, told a parliamentary committee in London that she understands Mohamed's case is now “number one, will be on top, will be the first case for expedited review" by the Obama administration, which has pledged to close Guantanamo Bay within a year.
Bradley, who is in London this week pressuring British politicians to push for her client's immediate release, said he has been on a hunger strike since Dec. 29 and is being force-fed along with other inmates on hunger strike. The last time she saw Mohamed two weeks ago, "his arms were thin as twigs." If he is not released soon, Bradley said, she fears he will leave Guantanamo Bay either "insane" or "in a coffin."
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Mohamed, who was born in Ethiopia, lived in Britain for a number of years before he traveled to Pakistan. He was arrested there in 2002 while trying to board a plane for London. He claims that he was held in several countries, and was tortured in Morocco, before being sent to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. There are no charges against him.
The Mohamed case has become an embarrassment for London due to claims, repeatedly denied by the government, that British agents were complicit in his torture and interrogation. Miliband is at the center of a storm over a set of 42 classified documents pertaining to Mohamed's treatment that he has said cannot be made public because they would jeopardize Britain's intelligence-sharing relationship with the United States.
The attorney, who has seen the classified documents regarding her client, said his torture in custody "would make water-boarding look like child's play."