It has just been announced in the BBC1 one o'clock news that the four remaining Britons held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will be released after prolonged negotiations with the US. The announcement was made by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the House of Commons a short while ago. This has been strongly rumoured to be about to happen since early today.
This is long overdue, but welcome nonetheless. I will not count this as having happened, though, until the four are back on British soil - it is expected this may be some weeks away and one wonders why. Maybe they (the American and/or the British authorities) are trying to get the four to sign disclaimers? It is really most curious.
It is expected that the four will be repatriated to the UK and probably questionned by the Metropolitan Police prior to further action being taken. It will be recalled that five Britons were repatriated in March 2004 and that all were released from police custody, back in the UK, within days of their arrival here.
As I have stated before, I reiterate that if there are charges which can plausibly be made against any of the four, or indeed any of the five who were released earlier, then they should be charged promptly and brought before a proper court and, if found guilty, punished. Whilst I am very happy that all the Britons known to be held at Guantanamo are now to be released into British custody, it is quite unacceptable that they, and all the others who remain, have been held in limbo for several years in a location deliberately chosen in an attempt to place them beyond the reach of [the normally well-respected system of] US justice. Those who remain at Guantanamo, of whatever nationality, need to be charged with something and if there is nothing they can be charged with then they should be released forthwith.