The BBC reports that two of the British men released from Guantánamo Bay recently have been refused passports by the Home Office. The government has used its Royal Prerogative to do this, only the 13th time the power has been used since 1947 and the first time it has been used in almost 30 years.
Martin Mubanga and Feroz Abbasi have received identical letters which say that, in the light of evidence gathered against them in the US, they would be likely to take part in action against the UK or its allies if they were allowed out of the country. So far, it isn’t known whether the other two men released at the same time, Richard Belmar and Moazzam Begg, have been told the same thing.
The letters say:
I am writing to inform you that on the basis of the information which has come to light during your detention by the United States, the home secretary considered that there are strong grounds for believing that, on leaving the United Kingdom, you would take part in activities against the United Kingdom, or allied targets.
He therefore decided, on the 24th of January, to withdraw your passport facilities for the time being.
He further considered that the removal of passport facilities and preventing you from leaving the UK, is a proportionate measure.
The suspicion is, of course, that these measures are part of a deal made between the British and US governments in order to secure the mens’ release from Guantánamo. The ‘evidence’ which the UK has is presumably that extracted from the men under torture or at least something very close to it. Such evidence is not worth a candle. I’d have confessed to killing my own grandmother under the hellish circumstances in which the men found themselves over the previous three years.
The Home Secretary is not saying what the evidence is just as he, and his predecessor, have refused to say what evidence they hold against those detained in Belmarsh and elsewhere. The reason usually given for this is that revealing the evidence would disclose the methods which the security services used to discover it. Or not, as the case may be.
The government really have to stop using this absurd excuse to deprive people of their liberty. If they can’t, or won’t, produce the evidence then they should not be using it against people. How on earth can anyone defend themself if they don’t even know what they’re accused of?
Posted 15 February 2005, 15:54 GMT