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Britain 'snubbed US Guantanamo offer'

London Telegraph | October 3 2006

The British Government snubbed an American offer to return British residents being held at Guantanamo Bay, it has been claimed.

The offer was made in June this year, according to documents obtained by the Guardian newspaper.

But the Government ruled out the move, saying that the men are foreign nationals so should be returned to the countries where they are from.

The documents obtained by the newspaper were submitted as evidence to a judicial review into Britain's decision not to apply for the release of nine British-resident foreign nationals being held at the American detention centre.

The newspaper refers to witness statements from David Richmond, the director-general of defence and intelligence at the Foreign Office and William Nye, director of counter-terrorism and intelligence at the Home Office.

Mr Richmond wrote: "The British embassy in Washington was told in mid-June 2006 that, during an internal meeting between US officials, the possibility had been floated of asking the UK Government to consider taking back all the detainees at Guantanamo Bay who had formerly been resident in the UK."

On June 27 British officials met their US counterparts from the departments of state, defence and the national security council, where discussions were held about the proposal, according to Mr Richmond's statement.

US demands that the men be kept under 24-hour surveillance if released contributed to British reluctance to take the men, according to the documents.

The judicial review to which the documents were submitted came after pressure from families of representatives of nine Guantanamo detainees who are or were resident in the UK. However, it is understood that the number of detainees included in the offer was far higher.

A Downing Street spokesman said the Government believed that Guantanamo Bay should be closed, but that "we are not in a position to provide consular or diplomatic assistance to foreign nationals".


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