[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 21:13 GMT
Guantanamo men released: Your views
Guantanamo detainees
The four British men previously held at Guantanamo Bay were released without charge on Wednesday.

Martin Mubanga, Feroz Abbasi, Richard Belmar and Moazzam Begg had been questioned by anti-terrorist officers in the UK after being held at the camp in Cuba for three years.

Despite their release, American defence officials say the four Britons still pose a security risk.

What is your reaction to their release? What do you think should happen to the remaining detainees held at Guantanamo Bay?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Katharine Friedmann, UK:
Three years in prison under terror law, with no charge: Is this acceptable?

Poor judgement in your choice of travel should not equate to automatic guilt and I don't understand why the UK government was so passive about demanding to see the proof of their alleged crimes or request their immediate release. If the intelligence failure on WMD is an indication of their competence, forgive me for having no faith in the bumbling of Guantanamo.
Rich, NY, US

These men, at best, had very dubious reasons for being in Afghanistan in the first place, and should be viewed with suspicion. This does not excuse the USA removing their right to a trial; they should have been held and tried in Afghanistan. If no case was forthcoming they should have been released to make their own way home.
Chris, UK

You are known by the company you keep
Noel Dobson, York

You are known by the company you keep. Those who don't know this basic tenet of British life should, like those that have forgotten, ignore it as in this instance at their extreme peril. This is one of the reasons why we have survived as a very small island community over the centuries. It is innate in our attitude to our security.
Noel Dobson, York, N Yorks

Afghanistan is not Ibiza. The idea that these men were on some kind of holiday is just not credible. When are these men going to give an explanation as to what they were doing?
Graham, Leeds, UK

Several contributors refer to lack of evidence from MI6, CIA etc. In terrorism cases there is always a problem because sources of information have to be protected. These may be agents recruited inside organisations, telephone intercept, or "bugged" homes, cars etc. It is often better to let a guilty person go free than compromise the source.
Peter Williams, Paris but UK citizen

If we start to believe that an accusation means the person is automatically guilty then we are back to the hysteria and injustice of the witch hunts of the Middle Ages. Anyone think that would be a good idea, they'd better declare war on democracy right along with the terrorists.
Shanti, London, England

How long will it be before we see these freed terror suspects claiming compensation? And we all know that one way or another they will be financially secure for the rest of their lives. They should have been returned to the place of arrest seeing that they were so keen to leave their families and travel into this uncertain area during the time of the major conflict. Let's have some answers from them.
Ian Davenport, Telford, Shropshire

About time. Now let's see the same for all the detainees at Guantanamo and Belmarsh. If there's evidence it should go to trial. If not they should be freed. Unless we all have the right to due process and a fair trial - rights our ancestors fought for - then how can we call ourselves a democracy?
Ben Drake, York, UK

Why does the UK media and various people below treat these people as if they're some form of homecoming war heroes? True they've been deprived of their freedom but there was a reason for this, they were caught in a country led by people that fostered terrorists of the most diabolical kind. Until we are 100% sure they were there in an innocent capacity we should be very suspicious. Why take chances with our lives?
Pete, Birmingham, UK

Many people seem to presume these men's guilt is based on them being in a war zone. Two were arrested in Pakistan and another in Zambia, neither of which are war zones.
Pete Melbourne, Chelmsford

Some of your contributors state that human rights are now a dispensable luxury. They are not. They are the foundation of civilised society and we would all do well to reflect on this during the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Peter, Birmingham, UK

Perhaps it is our evidential rules that need reform
Tom, London, England
The Guantanamo and Belmarsh Prison affair is testing our democracy to breaking point. On the one hand the rule of law and presumption of innocence must prevail, to ensure safety for the rest of us. But balanced against that must be the need to protect our citizens from serious threats. The issue is further complicated by the source of the evidence: often tapping and surveillance evidence can show conclusive involvement in terrorist activity. But such evidence is excluded under our Criminal Justice System. Perhaps it is our evidential rules that need reform to cope with the serious threat of terrorism that faces us.
Tom, London, England

Being British means more than just having a British passport. I will give these men all the sympathy they want when they (or their families) explain what they were doing in those countries at such a ridiculous time.
Derek S, UK

Unless the security services like the CIA are knowingly giving us wrong information about these detainees, then these prisoners do not deserve any legal rights and the four should be treated as terrorists before being treated as innocent until proven guilty. That's the problem with British justice - it's too soft and endangers us all!
Gary, Halifax, England

I am far more concerned about the threat to our security than the conduct of those that detained them
Kelly Tait, Edinburgh
The hand-wringing about innocent until proven guilty is all very well but the assumption must inevitably be applied a little differently to someone accused making off with a bun out of a bakers, than people held captive in the act of fighting against our forces and our allies. Given the circumstances in which they were taken captive, I am personally far more concerned about the threat to our security these people represent, than the conduct of those that detained them.
Kelly Tait, Edinburgh

This is so bad. Can people not see through the pink mist? These guys were told not to be where they were and chose to ignore that advice. They chose to ignore it either because they are particularly stupid, or because they had an ulterior motive. I suspect the latter in which case they deserve to be put on trial for treason. The lawyers involved will come away with a nice fat wallet either way.
Rory, Scotland

Detention without trial is totally unacceptable in a civilized society. Is this the "freedom" and "democracy" the "coalition of the willing" (America) wants to impose on others? Are we more civilized than other? I think not, the problem is we think we are.
Paul, Birmingham, UK

A large number of well meaning people are supporting the action to return these people to the UK because of a breach of their human rights. These men have been accused of aiding terrorism. Until it has been demonstrated what they were actually doing in a war zone, could someone please, please protect my human rights by not releasing them.
Kev, UK

Congratulations to their advocates, the detainees are back in the UK. However, war is not police work. Capturing suspected enemy will seldom involve the level of evidence gathering necessary for criminal prosecution.
Eric Larson, Huntingdon Cambs UK

The government should have done more to establish the facts of the matter and stick up for its citizens
Geoff, Merseyside
It is good news that they have been allowed back to the UK. Now we need to know the truth about their situation. Given what has gone before we are unlikely to find out the truth and if so then that is a serious indictment of our so called democracy. The government should have done more to establish the facts of the matter and stick up for its citizens. If we were put in that situation then that is what we would expect.
Geoff, Merseyside

A large percentage of people stating their opinion on this seem to forget that the UK is also holding a number of detainees without trial... the whole affair (in whatever country) utterly contravenes the basic human rights that all of us deserve.
Sue, Southampton, UK

The guilt or innocence of the detainees - all of them, mind you, not just the British ones - has by now become irrelevant. What is relevant is what we have become.
Agusta, San Francisco, USA

At last the justice seems to prevail.
Firozali A Mulla, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

The remaining detainees at Guantanamo Bay ought to have a fair trial. If a man is guilty¿ convict him to life imprisonment. If he is not guilty, he must be sent home at once.
Bonny Møller, Feldballe, Denmark

The men have been held under the very dubious pretext that they were prisoners of war
Christopher Burke, Horsham

These detainees should have either been brought to trial or released long ago. The men have been held under the very dubious pretext that they were prisoners of war - in a war which has neither been defined nor has any clear cut end.
Christopher Burke, Horsham, UK

Call me a cynic, but could the impending (UK) general election have something to do with their release?
Anna, Kent, UK

I'd just like one of those released from Guantanamo to give us all a reasonable explanation of why they were in Afghanistan in the first place. We hear loud and clear why they shouldn't have been in Guantanamo - now let's hear how they got into that situation.
Brian Mack, Paisley, Scotland

Innocent till proven guilty. The rule of law. Basic human rights. These are the pillars upon which we have tried to found our modern societies. They have been ALL encroached upon, which in itself is a travesty. What makes this even more frightening is that this has been committed by the world's most powerful country and the self-proclaimed protector of all and sundry. Will someone please stand up and make themselves heard?
Darab Khan, London, UK

So the Royal Air Force has flown these people back, fantastic, and who's paid for this? The British taxpayer, who no doubt will end up forking out for legal aid etc.
Roger Cope, Burton upon Trent

Let's face it - we will never know the facts about their involvement. What we do know is that America is openly showing disregard for human rights and justice. This should be unacceptable to anyone who has fought for or claims to support freedom and democracy.
Al, London

How can we go around the world preaching for freedom and democracy?
Tom, Exeter
I really feel sick when reading some of these comments! What's happened to "innocent until proven guilty"? Are we getting scared? Placing anybody we dislike behind bars never to be seen again? How can we go around the world preaching for freedom and democracy when the western world doesn't respect basic human rights? If these people are guilty they should be punished fittingly following an open and fair trial. If not I wish them the best of luck returning to normal life and freedom which should have been granted them a long time ago!
Tom, Exeter

The big question is... what were these men doing in a war zone? You simply do not go on holiday when USA is invading. Maybe common sense would have told them to get out of the area quickly.
Keith, Worthing, UK

It seems that once again this is just being used as an excuse for bashing the US. These people were in a war zone and I have yet to hear one credible piece of evidence as to why they were there.
Stewart Love, Denny, Scotland

If the men are a security risk then why don't the people who detained them show us the evidence against them?
Mohammed, Glenrothes, UK

If they are innocent then they should be released. But first they had better explain how they came to be captured by US forces.
John, UK

If the men were truly guilty of any crime, surely 3 years investigation would have been sufficient in uncovering it. If they're a threat, let us know why so we know that the government is doing the right thing. If not, let them go free to their families.
Edd Almond, London, England

Obviously, all detainees at Guantanamo AND in the UK who aren't going to be charged with a crime should be released immediately. This is not debatable. Because we were the victims of a terrorist attack, all our standards of justice should be abandoned? It's insane.
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?
Martin, London
Many of the comments being made make me ashamed to be British. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Have those who seem to be so willing to consign these men to continuing detention ever bothered to read the stories of how they were detained in the first place? In this week when we are recalling the horrors of 60 years ago, condemning others who rejected the principles of human rights, we should be ashamed of the behaviour of our government.
Martin, London

The fact that people who know nothing about the individuals involved, other than what they read in the press or hear from their families, can simply assume their innocence, and greet their release as proof of their innocence, is proof of the naivety of a large percentage of the public. Just because the law as it stands today and the nature of the individual's detention would not now support a criminal conviction, does not prove that they were engaged in doing no wrong.
Richard, Swindon

This is tough one. Sometimes to protect peace you must go to war. Sometimes to protect democracy and freedom you must deny others their freedom. However if in the long run you actually lose the freedom you are trying to desperately protect by draconian legislation then you must ask what it was you were fighting for. We have a delicate balancing act to perform in that we must protect all our citizen's safety and their rights even when some of our citizens would harm us.
Ged, UK

These men should never be released. That they have been is simply the result of pressure from Blair in an election year. Your other contributors forget that concepts such as the presumption of innocence, free legal aid and human rights are a luxury. They do not apply in a post 9/11 world.
Roger, London, England.

The rule of law applies at all time
Ed, London UK
These men were held in inhumane and disgusting conditions. If they were convicted terrorists, I'd be clapping the US. As they aren't, their detainment was unjustified. If they're guilty, let them be charged and imprisoned properly. The rule of law applies at all times, not when Bush and Blair decide it is
Ed, London UK

This raises strong questions concerning the basis on which these men are being held. If they're being released so abruptly how can we know that there aren't more detainees being held on questionable grounds?
Robert Marland, Stockport, UK

Our blind observance of the human rights act combined with a hysterical politically correct mentality makes it impossible to prosecute these terrorists. Lawyers will be queuing up to represent them for 'compensation' They should have stayed at Guantanamo.
Ray Anderson, UK

One has to question seriously why these men were there and why these men were there when they were. Personally the last place on earth I would want to visit is a war zone or a country ruled by fanatical brutes. In the case of Afghanistan, it was both. This has nothing to do with their religion. I'm sure that most Muslims in the UK wouldn't dream of being in Afghanistan at such a time. I smell a rat somewhere.
Neal, Herts, UK

The only way to keep a government from arresting and imprisoning whomever they please is the knowledge that everything will come out in court. If they can bypass the courts, which are established to protect justice, what other check do they have? (And to Mr. Phillips - you would most likely have a different view on the Geneva Convention if you were the one in enemy custody.)
Kristen, Michigan, USA

The USA is above all law, and Blair accepts this
Michael, Hastings, Great Britain
The British government should never allowed British citizens to be kidnapped, tortured and virtually allowed to rot. Surprisingly there have been few protests, and therefore British general opinion says it is OK. The USA is above all law, and Blair accepts this.
Michael, Hastings, Great Britain

I am totally surprised at people making comments such as lock them up and throw away the key. Let's be clear about one thing, the reason they are being released is that the CIA and MI6 have not found any evidence that these men committed any crime. It's just that I thought we lived in a democracy but our governments are no better than Iraq because we did what Saddam did - imprison people without any reason or proof. He just did it in a big way and maybe our governments have learned to do the same thing so they have started in a small way.
Ahmed, Cardiff

It seems that Rumsfeld has achieved his aim into turning people against those being held captive at Guantanamo Bay with all the rhetoric and labelling them as evil men when some of you sceptics don't even know why they are given that label. It seems that the "atmosphere of terror" has really shaken you more than I imagined.
Jonathan, Leicester, UK

These men are British citizens who, like any others, deserved the representation and protection of their government. More than that, they are human beings incarcerated without trial, without representation, without contact with their families for 3 years. Think about how that would feel. Guilty or not, it is a fundamental part of our system of democracy and justice that we are trying to desperately to export internationally that those accused of a crime are held and tried according to the rule of law. Anything else is rank hypocrisy. We should be ashamed that we have allowed this to happen.
Katherine, London, UK

This is the action of a police state, not a democracy
Gary Thompson, Hastings, UK
The fundamental pillar of a democratic legal system is presumption of innocence until proven guilty - this is something that conveniently the US has ignored in this case, as are we in the UK with the ongoing detention without charge of terrorist suspects. I'm all in favour of security, but to incarcerate without being told why? This is the action of a police state, not a democracy!
Gary Thompson, Hastings, UK

Yes good that they have been released but are they a risk to our country and people? Unless they are cleared of all charges they should not be released back into British society.
Noel Barnes, Newport South Wales

I am very pleased that the Four Brits are back home and I hope our government will either charge them based on concrete evidence (and it should be made public) or treat them with dignity, release them and compensate them for playing a part in devastating their mental health, social welfare and careers. Best Wishes and Good luck to their families.
Haldiwala, Blackpool, UK

If these men are genuinely criminals there is no reason to release them. However, last time I checked it wasn't an offence to visit Pakistan, Afghanistan etc and the only accepted way to establish guilt is by a fair trial. I have to wonder how the US would respond if four of their citizens were kept in solitary confinement in the UK without trial for three years on the basis that we thought they might be plotting against us.
John B, UK

Like many I am concerned that these British detainees have been simply released and allowed to return to the UK. Whilst it is clearly not ideal to hold people incarcerated for such a long time without charge, I simply do not believe that they would have been held be a western democracy unless there were real security concerns.
Ian Jerram, Chesterfield, England

They are innocent because there was no evidence
Esmie, Canada
I am disgusted by those comments that support illegal imprisonment and torture. How can someone speculate that even though nothing wrong was found with these individuals doesn't mean that they are innocent? They are innocent because there was no evidence. Remember innocent until proven guilty.
Esmie, Canada

I don't know what all the fuss is about with this, as this was happening to the Irish Catholics over 30 years ago when they were held under internment. No one in the UK kicked up a fuss then!
Michael Brennan, Birmingham

Reply to comment by Michael Brennan: believe me when I say I now know what Irish Catholics have gone through. As a British Muslim we've had to tolerate the presumption of guilt for the transgression of others, have been asked to apologise for the actions of people we don't even know or even sympathise with and had to hide our true thoughts from others for fear of isolation and/or violence. Added to the constant vilification of Muslims in the press, I understand and totally sympathise with what the majority of innocent Irish Catholics had to go through during the 70s and 80s.
Ilyas, Wales

Why were the "detainees" where they were in the first place?
Joanne, London

Now that even the US has released many of its illegally held captives, shouldn't Tony Blair follow suit and release the 16 Muslim males who continue to be detained without charge in the UK?
Matt Nailon, Bath, UK

Detention without trial is indefensible. Our government has behaved shamefully in collaborating with the USA.
Mobass, London UK

Timing is everything, they say. Here we are commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz after sixty years of apparently learning absolutely nothing. More to the point, the irony of our allegiance to an administration that conceals autocratic abuse of human rights behind a facade of democracy seems wholly indefensible.
Patrick V. Staton, Guildford, UK

"The reasons they were in the countries they were detained should be made public," says Lee from Morpeth. They already have been - one was running a school in Afghanistan, one was in Zambia as he had family there and was arrested after his stolen passport was used by a suspected terrorist and one had the misfortune to be visiting a house in Pakistan that the Americans decided belonged to al Qaeda. Not exactly caught red handed, were they?
Anon, London

These people have been through enough
Benjamin, London
I am seriously concerned that it took the government so long to secure the release of these British subjects. As far as I am concerned they were abducted by a foreign power, possibly tortured and now face unjustified arrest. If we begin to tolerate lesser human rights for one religious/ethnic group than for others than we will go down the same slippery slope that Germany went down on in the 1930s, ultimately resulting in genocide. These people have been through enough. They should be allowed home immediately and the UK government should support them in seeking financial compensation from the USA.
Benjamin, London

What were they doing in a war zone? Are they innocent bystanders or traitors to our country? This needs resolving before any release is considered.
Kev, UK

The men were put in Guantanamo through the system of justice and in my opinion wouldn't be there for any other reason that they had done something wrong. They're not going to put innocent people there!
John Mercer, Glasgow, UK

We (the UK) and the US should pay compensation to these people who were held without trial. I am ashamed to live in a country that didn't stand up to the US for those medieval practices.
Wolfie, London, England

We are told that these men flew to Afghanistan to fight against, amongst others, troops from this country. That being the case, they have committed treason and they should face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
RJ, UK

This whole situation proves the USA only believes in democracy when it suits them
Simon Watson, Cambridge, UK
These are British citizens held outside the law, under intolerable conditions. If they'd been held in almost any other nation, the government would have screamed from the rooftops for their release on a daily basis, and quite likely used 'other means' to secure their release. They should not have been there in the first place. If there is evidence of wrongdoing, they should have been put on trial. This whole situation proves the USA only believes in democracy when it suits them.
Simon Watson, Cambridge, UK

I like Simon Watson's comment, if they'd been held in almost any other nation. Clearly not Saudi Arabia.
Kevin, Watford UK

To Simon Watson: The UK is and has been doing the same thing all along. Stop with the over-the-top USA bashing when our own government has been just as guilty with Belmarsh substituted for Guantanamo.
Chris, London

They have endured over three years 'detention' and interrogation, likely mistreatment and yet there is still no evidence against them. But I bet some people will still declare that they are obviously guilty.
Graeme, London, England

How can we, the general public know? Surely, if they've been release this implies they are innocent? Yet, if they are innocent, why were they locked up for 3 years? And without trial?
Allan, Reading

I hope these men will be thoroughly investigated, charges brought against them if it's possible to do so, and placed under surveillance. Personally though, I'd be happier if they never set foot here again.
M. Jarvis, UK

I'd like to ask M Jarvis why he or she does not want these men to set foot in England again. What evidence do you have? What reasons can you give for wanting to exclude them from their country ? Or are you sufficiently trusting of the intelligence services and politicians who also told you before the war that there were WMDs in Iraq
Alex, Birmingham England

I hope there will be a huge public apology from George W himself and a sizeable sum of compensation for all that they have suffered
Donna Chisholm, Staffs, UK
I think it is wholly immoral that these prisoners have been held for this length of time without a trial to prove if they are guilty or innocent. The USA and Great Britain recently invaded Iraq saying that human rights were being withheld from the people of the country. What human rights have these prisoners had? If they are guilty then lock them up and throw away the key. If they are innocent then I hope there will be a huge public apology from George W himself and a sizeable sum of compensation for all that they have suffered.
Donna Chisholm, Staffs, UK

I am delighted that they have finally been released, but not about how long it has taken for the British government to act on behalf of British citizens. As for the other people held at Guantanamo Bay, they should be either charged with whatever laws they are accused of having broken or treated as Prisoners of War.
Megan, Cheshire UK

If any of the families of the detainees are reading this, I would like express my full support and sympathy for what you have been through and to welcome your brothers, sons and fathers back to the UK.
Liz, London

We have to ensure our security at all costs
Graeme Phillips, Guildford, UK
If these people are a security threat, I am disappointed that the USA decided to release them. I am not bothered by their detention in the least as long as they are security threats. I don't care about things like the Geneva convention: - we have to ensure our security at all costs.
Graeme Phillips, Guildford, UK

At the least these people do not owe their allegiance to the UK. Why we waste political capital securing their release I do not know. Now they have been returned they will become a burden on our legal aid funds.
Ian, Bradford UK

Their release back into the UK is a cause for public concern - so the reasons they were in the countries they were detained should be made public. The public have a right to know what these people were doing.
Les, Morpeth, England





PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific