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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 15:30 GMT
Terror suspect's lawyers target government
Feroz Abbasi
Feroz Abbasi is among five Britons held at Camp X-Ray
Lawyers acting for a British al-Qaeda terror suspect held at Camp X-Ray have begun legal proceedings against the government.

The High Court action is aimed at forcing Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to arrange legal representation for 22-year-old Feroz Abbasi.

His solicitors are calling for a judicial review of the government's co-operation with the United States over the issue.

The bid was launched after Mr Abbasi's mother, nurse Zumrati Juma, from Croydon, south London, said she was worried he was being treated badly and that he should be returned to Britain.

Death penalty

Louise Christian, a member of the legal team, said she had also lodged an application to stop MI5 agents carrying out another interrogation of Mr Abbasi until he was allowed to see a lawyer.

He is among five Britons being held by the US at a naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Camp X Ray
Lawyers say the detainees' rights are being ignored
The prisoners have been denied legal representation and have not been formally charged or told how they will be tried.

Ms Christian said: "We are also seeking an order that the foreign secretary should make a protest to the Americans about the circumstances of these unlawful detentions.

"And we are seeking a declaration that the British Government demands that Mr Abbasi should not face trial in a military tribunal with the death penalty."

Fast-track

The legal challenge could see charges brought against the government under the Human Rights Act 1998 for "aiding and abetting" the US in unlawfully detaining the men against United Nations guidelines.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Home Secretary David Blunkett are named as joint defendants.

Ms Christian said she has asked the court to fast-track her application for the judicial review.

She added that Mr Abbasi's legal team includes human rights specialist Edward Fitzgerald QC and Stephen Solley QC of the Bar human rights committee.

'Frightened'

Last week Miss Juma said her son had gone missing a year ago, but that she had not stopped looking for him.

She said: "I am frightened that he is being badly treated and being kept in a cage without any exercise."

To ensure his "legal rights", Miss Juma added, she wanted him brought back to the UK - and urged the United States not to impose conditions on such a move.

US officials have indicated that most of the men being held in Cuba would face trial in their home countries.

See also:

24 Feb 02 | Americas
Camp X-Ray inmates 'may go home'
12 Feb 02 | Americas
UN speaks out on Afghan detainees
22 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Ministers get details of captive Britons
21 Jan 02 | UK Politics
From student to terror suspect
21 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Captive Britons have 'no complaints'
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