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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 16:24 GMT
Camp X-Ray Briton loses court battle
Feroz Abbasi
Feroz Abbasi is among five Britons held at Camp X-Ray
A British al-Qaeda terror suspect has lost a High Court battle against the UK Government over the conditions of his detention by the US at Camp X-Ray.

Feroz Abbasi, 22, from Croydon, south London, has been held at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since January.

But the court rejected his lawyer's arguments that the British Government should intervene to help Mr Abbasi because his "fundamental rights" were being violated.

The judge, Mr Justice Richards, said: "The challenge seeks to involve this court in an area of international relations and foreign policy for which the judicial process is manifestly unsuited."

Edward Fitzgerald QC, for Mr Abbasi, had called for the UK Government to bring an end to his "unlawful conditions" of detention.

There is a very real danger that fundamental principles of international law are being violated

Edward Fitzgerald QC

Mr Fitzgerald also represents Mr Abbasi's mother Zumrati Juma.

And he told Mr Justice Richards she was seeking a declaration from the court "to ensure the British Government correctly directs itself as to her son's status and rights in law and takes the appropriate action on his behalf under international conventions".

He said she was challenging "certain acts and omissions of the UK Government which owes specific duties to (her son) as a British citizen detained by the US in a manner that violates his fundamental rights under international law".

"There is a very real danger that fundamental principles of international law are being violated," Mr Fitzgerald said.

Interrogation

Louise Christian, the solicitor acting for Mr Abbasi's mother Zumrati Juma, argued the alleged interrogation of Mr Abbasi by an MI6 agent at the camp amounted to complicity under the legislation.

Nurse Ms Juma, also from Croydon, has called on Prime Minister Tony Blair to persuade the US government to hand her son over to British authorities.

"Feroz is a polite and obedient young man. I do not believe he would have got involved in terrorism," she has said.

"I'm frightened he is being treated badly, and being kept in a cage without any exercise.

"I don't believe Feroz is being given freedom to talk about the conditions he is being kept in, or his health."

Mr Abbasi is one of five Britons being held at the prison camp after being captured by US troops while allegedly helping to defend the Taleban stronghold of Kunduz in Afghanistan.

The others include three men from the Midlands: Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbala and Ruhal Ahmed, who all come from the Tipton area.

Hunger strike

The fifth man is 35-year-old Jamal Udeen, from Hulme in Manchester, who was transferred to Camp X-Ray from the Afghan city of Kandahar.

The action was heard in the London court by Mr Justice Richards.

Tensions at Guantanamo Bay are currently high. A hunger protest there entered its 16th day on Thursday, with three of the 300 detainees continuing to refuse meals.

Camp X Ray
Human rights campaigners are concerned about the detainees
The strike began on 27 February when a confrontation between a guard and an inmate over a turban prompted protest fasts by almost 200 prisoners.

The Organisation of American States' Human Rights Commission this week called on the US to take "urgent measures" to have a tribunal determine the legal status of the prisoners.

The US has refused to call the detainees prisoners of war, a status which could confer certain rights.

The detainees have not been granted legal representation and have not been formally charged or told how they will be tried.

US officials have, however, indicated that most of the men could be sent to face trial in their home countries, with a few facing military commissions in the US.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Hughes
"This will be a big disappointment for them [the families]"
See also:

24 Feb 02 | Americas
Camp X-Ray inmates 'may go home'
21 Jan 02 | UK Politics
From student to terror suspect
21 Jan 02 | UK Politics
Captive Britons have 'no complaints'
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