In the Media

Deadline set for decision on fate of Guantanamo inmate

PUBLISHED July 27, 2007

The High Court set a deadline yesterday for Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, to decide whether a terrorist suspect held at Guantanamo prison should be allowed back into the Britain.

She was given until 4pm on 9 August to decide whether Jamil el-Banna, 45, can return to Britain. His arrest in The Gambia after a tip-off by MI6 to the CIA led to a row between British and American intelligence.

A committee of MPs warned the Prime Minister that Mr el-Banna's case had undermined the relationship between the CIA and MI6. Mr el-Banna, a Jordanian Palestinian, was held with Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi, and taken to Guantanamo in Cuba as part of the US "rendition" of suspects.

Mr al-Rawi was released in March after evidence emerged in a British court that he helped MI5 monitor the radical cleric Abu Qatada. But the Government said Mr el-Banna's leave to stay in Britain expired while he was in prison.

His family solicitor, Irene Nembhard, said Mr el-Banna's family could not understand why the Government would not give the "simple reassurance" that he would be allowed back into the UK.

She said it was against the background "of the security services admitting to the Intelligence and Security Committee sending uncorrected misinformation about Jamil to the US security services. This is especially painful as the security services still have done nothing to assist in clearing Jamil of suspicion."

In May, after four-and-a-half years of interrogations, the US military concluded he was not a threat and cleared him for release, said Ms Nembhard. "Yet still the British Government has refused to act to clear the way for his speedy return home."

"Again, Mrs el-Banna has had to resort to the courts to persuade the British Government to offer minimal assistance to her husband. Her heart is aching," said Ms Nembhard.