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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 14:15 GMT
UK Taleban suspect loses appeal
Feroz Abbasi
Feroz Abbasi is being held at Camp Delta by the US
A British Taleban suspect being held without trial by the United States has lost a legal bid to force the British Government to intervene on his behalf.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims that diplomatic representations should be made about the conditions under which 22-year-old Feroz Abbasi is being held.

But the court said it found his detention without charge or access to courts, at a US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "legally objectionable".

Lawyers for Mr Abbasi, one of seven British nationals held at Camp Delta, claimed the government's refusal to intervene on his behalf was unlawful and that he was being held in a "legal black hole".

Mr Abbasi has been held at the US base - formerly known as Camp X-Ray - since his capture in Afghanistan in January.

Military order

The appeal was brought by Mr Abbasi's mother, Zumrati Juma, from Croydon in south London, after the High Court threw out demands for the government to act over conditions at the camp.

Zumrati Juma, mother of Feroz Abbasi
The case was brought by Zumrati Juma

Master of the Rolls Lord Phillips said it was understood that Mr Abbasi was being held under a military order of the US President, which excludes a right of access to the courts.

Summing up the court's decision Lord Phillips said it did not "express any view on whether Mr Abbasi's detention as an alleged enemy combatant may be justified as a matter of law".

But he said it was "legally objectionable that Mr Abbasi should be subject to indefinite detention in territory over which the United States has exclusive control".

Lord Phillips said Mr Abbasi had been left with "no opportunity to challenge the legitimacy of his detention before any court or tribunal".

'Protect nationals'

Mr Abbasi's lawyer Louise Christian said afterwards that some positive aspects had come out of the ruling.

In particular the comment by the court that Mr Abbasi's containment in Cuba without charge or access to the courts was "legally objectionable", she said.

She added: "[The court said] this judgement may well be drawn to the attention of the Supreme Court for considering the appeal in the US."

During the appeal Nicholas Blake QC, representing the family, told the panel of three judges that the case raised "issues of great importance for citizen and state alike".

He said: "It is yet another feature of the tension between the practical respect for the human rights of the citizen and state responses to the terrible events of September 11, 2001."

Louise Christian, Abbasi's lawyer
The case had some positive notes, said Abbasi's lawyer

Mr Blake said Mr Abbasi had not been charged with a criminal offence or interred as a prisoner of war.

He said the nature of Mr Abbasi's detention was against international law and deprived him of the right to go to any court or tribunal to review its legality.

In a statement human rights group Amnesty International said it believed the judgement should prompt action by the UK to protect Mr Abbasi and the six other British nationals.

Lost touch

It is calling on the UK to urge the USA to repatriate the seven UK nationals immediately unless they are charged by the US authorities and brought to trial.

Such a trial should be before an independent court with a fair trial, excluding the possibility of the death penalty being imposed, said the group.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said the court had accepted it had offered as much assistance and representation as Mr Abbasi could have expected.

The spokesman said: "The Foreign Office has throughout sought to ensure the detainee's well being, as well as to protect Britain's national security."

Mrs Juma lost touch with her son in 2000 after he began attending mosques in Croydon and Finsbury Park, north London.

After meeting a radical cleric he travelled to Afghanistan allegedly to train with the Taleban regime.

Mrs Juma did not hear of him again until his name appeared on a list of those detained by the US authorities at the base.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

10 Sep 02 | England
21 Jan 02 | Politics
27 Feb 02 | Americas
27 Jan 02 | England
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