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Guantanamo four return to UK


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The last four Britons to be held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have arrived back in the UK.

The men -- two aged 25, one aged 32 and one aged 36 -- were arrested by anti-terrorism police on arrival at a military air base west of London on Tuesday afternoon, and are expected to be questioned under UK anti-terror laws.

Police arrested the men under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which refers to the alleged involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

The men have been taken to a central London police station.

On arrival, each man will be medically examined by a forensic medical examiner to ensure that they are fit to be detained and interviewed by officers from the anti-terrorist branch, according to a statement released by Scotland Yard.

"As is normal practice each man will be allowed to make a phone call and have access to a solicitor of his choice," the statement said.

"Due to the unique circumstances of this case each man will be allowed a visit by a family member."

Families of the men say the men have suffered torture during their detention without trial for almost three years.

Moazzam Begg, Feroz Abbasi, Martin Mubanga and Richard Belmar are among some 550 prisoners from 42 countries swept up in the U.S.-led war on terror.

Moazzam Begg's father, Azmat Begg, said he would likely see his son Wednesday, and added that he had mixed feelings about the meeting.

"I am not very excited for the simple reason that (he has suffered) mental torture for three years and I don't know what that has done to him," Begg told BBC radio. "Also, at the same time, I am happy my son is coming home.

British Muslim leaders have lobbied the government to provide medical treatment and counseling to the four Britons on their return home. The Muslim Council of Britain said the four men would be heavily traumatized and in need of care after three years in U.S. custody.

DAC Peter Clarke, head of the UK Anti-Terrorist Branch, said: " We have discussed this case with members of the Muslim community and recognize that there are strong feelings about the return of these men to the UK.

"But the fact is that we have an absolute duty on behalf of all communities to investigate the circumstances leading to the men's detention.

"Our inquiries are being carried out strictly in accordance with UK law and procedures. These have built-in safeguards and are subject to independent scrutiny. We are totally committed to ensuring that the men are treated properly and fairly."

The decision to release the men follows months of sensitive negotiations between Washington and London to address U.S. security concerns.

When it announced their release earlier this month -- along with a fifth man, an Australian -- the U.S. Defense Department said the men were "enemy combatants who had been detained by the United States in accordance with the laws of war and U.S. law." (Full story)

Originally, the United States held nine British citizens at its Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. London asked in 2003 for the return of all nine, and in March 2004, the U.S. released five of them.


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