- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2009

LONDON — A Guantanamo Bay inmate who claims he was tortured while in U.S. custody will be released on Monday and returned to Britain, his lawyer said Sunday.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and former British resident, has been kept at the military prison camp in Cuba even though terrorism charges against him were dropped in October.

His release had been widely anticipated after President Barack Obama took office pledging to close Guantanamo and return as many detainees as possible to their home countries. Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband, has been lobbying for Mohamed’s return to Britain since 2007.

Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith said he was “confident it will happen on Monday.”

Stafford Smith acts as Mohamed’s civilian lawyer. Military lawyer Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley said she had no confirmation of when her client was due to return to Britain.

She added that she was often the last person to know what the U.S. government was doing with Mohamed.

“You’d think counsel would know, but this is what I’ve been dealing with for the last three years,” Bradley said.

Mohamed, 30, who moved to Britain as a refugee when he was 15, was arrested in Pakistan on a visa violation and turned over to American authorities, according to rights group Reprieve, which Stafford Smith directs.

Mohamed alleges he was beaten in Pakistan and tortured in Morocco and Afghanistan before being moved to the U.S. facility in Cuba in September 2004. Washington has never publicly acknowledged extraordinary renditions to places such as Morocco and still refuses to say where Mohamed was before he was taken to Guantanamo.

Although Britain’s Foreign Office released a statement Friday saying Mohamed would be returned to the U.K. “as soon as the practical arrangements can be made” it has repeatedly declined to say exactly when he is expected back.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, said that “as a matter of long-standing policy, we do not discuss detainee transfers and releases until they are completed.”

Stafford Smith said he did not know the details of Mohamed’s release. He could not say when exactly Mohamed would arrive or where in Britain Mohamed would be taken, although he noted that other Guantanamo inmates returned to the U.K. had been flown into London’s Luton Airport or the Brize Norton Royal Air Force base near Oxford.

Associated Press Writer David McFadden in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

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