Former Guantanamo Detainee Returns to London – By Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post Foreign Service

February 23rd, 2009 Print Print Email Email

A former British resident released after seven years in detention, more than four of them at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived back in London on Monday and issued a statement alleging that the United States government had subjected him to years of “medieval” torture. (more…)

A former British resident released after seven years in detention, more than four of them at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived back in London on Monday and issued a statement alleging that the United States government had subjected him to years of “medieval” torture.

“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,” Binyam Mohamed 30, said in the statement released by his attorneys at a London news conference.

Mohamed, 30, the first Guantanamo detainee released during the Obama administration, has become a symbol of international anger at the anti-terrorism practices of the United States following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

His arrival at a Royal Air Force base near London on Monday afternoon ended what his attorneys have described as a seven-year odyssey of torture, “rendition” by U.S. authorities to secret prisons in Morocco and Afghanistan and legal limbo in a system where he was held without charge for much of his detention.

“He is a victim who has suffered more than any human being should ever suffer,” said his attorney, Clive Stafford Smith, who visited Mohamed a half-dozen times at Guantanamo.

U.S. officials charged Mohamed initially with plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the United States and later with conspiring with members of al-Qaeda to murder and commit terrorism. All the charges were eventually dropped.

The government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had been petitioning the U.S. government for Mohamed’s return since August 2007.

British and European officials have been harshly critical of U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, although few European governments have expressed willingness to take any of the detainees as the Obama administration works to close the controversial facility.

“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,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Monday.

Attorney General Eric Holder, who traveled to Guantanamo on Monday, issued a statement that said, “The friendship and assistance of the international community is vitally important as we work to close Guantanamo, and we greatly appreciate the efforts of the British government to work with us on the transfer of Binyam Mohammed.”

Mohamed, a native of Ethiopia who immigrated to Britain in 1994, was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002 and turned over to U.S. authorities a few months later. U.S. officials accused him of traveling to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban militia, which he has denied.

In accounts provided by his attorneys, Mohamed said that U.S. officials flew him to Morocco and that he was tortured there for 18 months. He said he was beaten and had his penis cut with a razor. He said he was then transferred to a CIA-run site in Afghanistan and was beaten there regularly before being transferred to Guantanamo in September 2004.

U.S. officials have denied taking Mohamed to Morocco, and Moroccan officials deny having held him. U.S. officials have also repeatedly denied torturing terrorism suspects.

In his statement Monday, Mohamed also accused British officials of being complicit in his “horrors over the past seven years.”

“The very worst moment came when I realized in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence,” he said. “I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open with them. Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realized, had allied themselves with my abusers.”

Mohamed apologized for not appearing in person at the news conference, saying that for the moment he was “neither physically nor mentally capable of facing the media.”

He said he wanted to speak out on behalf of the 241 Muslim prisoners he said were still being held at Guantanamo and the “thousands of other prisoners held by the U.S. elsewhere around the world, with no charges and without access to their families.”

“While I want to recover, and put it all as far in my past as I can, I also know I have an obligation to the people who still remain in those torture chambers,” he said. “My own despair was greatest when I thought that everyone had abandoned me. I have a duty to make sure that nobody else is forgotten.”

He added, “I am not asking for vengeance; only that the truth should be made known, so that nobody in the future should have to endure what I have endured.”

A spokesman for the British Home Office said Mohamed faces no charges in Britain but would not comment on news reports that he would be kept under surveillance.

“He has been granted temporary admission to the U.K. while his immigration status is being considered,” the spokesman said, adding that Mohamed has not been granted residency but can apply for asylum or residency if he chooses to.

Stafford Smith, Mohamed’s attorney, said he was convinced of his client’s innocence and challenged anyone who disagreed to prove it in a British court.

“If anyone has any charges they want to bring, we have had a system for the last 800 years which has proved perfectly satisfactory, and they should put up or shut up,” Stafford Smith said, adding, “If anyone wants to put him on a trial, in the immortal words of George Bush, bring them on.”

Special correspondent Karla Adam contributed to this report.

Report By PressTV

  1. Yelekal Egzeabher
    | #1

    Good luck Binyam. May the Blessed Mother and her son Jesus Christ protect you. This people are a real devil you need to be very carefull, don’t trust them. You have to be strong and fight for others who are still suffring in prison all over the world. You are a choosen one to be a voice for others. We will stand with you, you are not alone, even though we are not in prison, but we are a prisoner. I hop your family will be very greatfull to see you alive after all this time and to be free from the devils hand.

    May God Be withe you. Be strong. Things happen for reason.

  2. dedebite
    | #2

    just wondering why mohammed benyam went to paki estan to the no one historical enemy of ethiopia to begin with? there is no reasen for an ethiopian man to go to that back ward country any way is he ethiopian i dont think so.i know my people dont do it.peace to my country

  3. longLiveEthiopia
    | #3

    This converted-Muslim, Eritrean Man payed a huge sacrifice for Nothing.
    May God save all of us from such bad decissions.

  4. Pskistan
    | #4

    Poor Biniam,You are so innocent and hardly mature to take such responsibility.Why those devil-Alqaidas put you in such a big trouble?

  5. Ali
    | #5

    We need the Ethiopian union for ever .

  6. alleltu
    | #6

    Ya Dedebit U right,

    HE is an Eritrian.We all know that Ethiopians are innocent and good thinking except the Coward-Woyanes

  7. JoJo
    | #7

    Abshir bro!! Allah will be with u. Dont forget that those who always stick to the truth suffer wores than the liers. And the truth has trimphed as ever.

  8. tola
    | #8

    Did i heared dedebite saying pakistan is back ward country??? Iwounder what kind of brain you have!!the country has anuclear bro!! donot even try in your rotten mind to mention such acountry which is respected by us and allies

  9. Anonymous
    | #9

    have iread some that pakistan is back ward??no the country has nuuuk well educated ppl and they are not our enemy

  10. Yelekal Egzeabher
    | #10

    My Dear Brother I think you learned your lesson, don’t ever try such thing again. I wish you all the best.

  11. Abe
    | #11

    እንካን ደስ ያለህ ቢኒ
    ፓኪስታን ለምን እንደሄድክ ባላውቅም ለራስህ ዋጋ እንድትሰጥ እመክርህ አለው
    Don’t trust those fundamentalist. They are not created for good. I don’t believe in religion which says killing innocent people leads to heaven. Bad idea!!

  12. omle
    | #12


    Know the person first and get your facts straight,idiot. Binyam is 100% Ethiopian. And BTW what if he had an Eritrea blood in him “yemegenagna sefer lij new. Wasn’t there a time when you and your likes cried Eritrea lemin tigenetelalech? Anyways,yehabesha neger honena tinish simu yetefawun aye Eritrean new lemalet atmokir. I wonder what others will say about you in real life!

  13. beka
    | #13

    Good luck Biniyam ! God bless Barack Obama ! Now you got the opportunity to start afresh . It is natural to pay a price for what you believe in . Whether Bini is Eritrean or Ethiopian does it matter ? By the way is Pakistan our enemy ? Think twice before you speak .

  14. beka
    | #14

    ጎበዝ አንዳዶቻችን የምንናግረውን እናስተውል.

  15. selam felagiw
    | #15

    Oh Guys remember what terrorists did in Jimma, Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world.The problem is not of Mohameds being an Ethiopian, Eritrean or the development of Pakistan. The major issue these days is peace. Anti terrorism. We are witnessing that so many Somalian youths are disappearingfrom cities like Minnesita and joining Alqaida. Is there any body who needs to see the ruthless acts of terorists in Jimma again.
    Binyam, if u are innocent, i am sorry. But think of what terrorists are doing when u think what intelligence authorities did upon u. i hope it is not to simply aaatck poor eritrean boy. The mere reason for ur suffering is the acts of terrorists. Had there been no terrosits, no detention, no guantanamo , no Binyam arrest. Hate terrorist much than american agents who tortured u

  16. Binyam Belaw
    | #16

    Binyam your name it looks like ceristyan name and your laste name’Mohamed’ I know it’s iselamek name,please I want to know and the athere thing I need to know how you want to from Ingland to Pakistan?Why?and Where you from orygenaly? Please We need those qutione answere all my ferainds. Please you cane e-mail here is my addres ‘

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