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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January 2005, 09:27 GMT
Timeline: Guantanamo Bay Britons
Feroz Abbasi
Feroz Abbasi was released in Britain on 26 January 2005
After nearly three years' detention in a US military camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for suspected links to terrorism, four Britons have been returned to Britain and released without charge.

In March 2004 five other British detainees were also returned and freed.

Here is a timeline of key events.

2001

7 October - British and American forces invade Afghanistan.

2002

12 January- The first al-Qaeda prisoners are moved from detention centres in Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay US naval base, Cuba. It emerges that there are Britons being held there.

27 January - The family of Guantanamo detainee Shafiq Rasul, 24, from Tipton, in the West Midlands, plead for him to be returned to Britain for questioning. He is in the camp with fellow Britons, Asif Iqbal, 20, also from Tipton, and Feroz Abbasi, 22, from Croydon, Surrey.

19 February- A legal team representing Mr Iqbal, 20, and Mr Rasul, 24, calls on the US government to either justify their detention of the two men by bringing charges, or free them.

6 March- Lawyers for Mr Abbasi seek a judicial review of the government's co-operation with the US.

Shafiq Rasul
Shafiq Rasul was released in March 2004

They want to force Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to arrange legal representation for Mr Abbasi.

15 March- Mr Abbasi loses his High Court battle against the government.

1 July- Three senior judges give permission for a full hearing of Mr Abbasi's claims that the government is not protecting his rights while he is held by the US at Camp X-Ray.

6 November- The Court of Appeal rules that Mr Straw cannot be compelled to intervene over the detention by the US of Mr Abbasi.

2003

26 February- It emerges that Moazzam Begg, from Birmingham, is now a detainee at Guantanamo Bay. He is reported to have been seized in Pakistan.

17 June- Freed Guantanamo Bay prisoners from Afghanistan and Pakistan say they had tried to commit suicide to escape harsh conditions at the detention camp.

Moazzam Begg's father said he feared for his son's health

4 July - It emerges that two Britons, Mr Begg and Mr Abbasi, could be among the first detainees to face trial by secretive military tribunals.

18 July- The US agrees to suspend the threat of secret military hearings against the nine Britons being held pending talks between the two nations.

20 November- The immediate fate of the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay will be resolved "soon", Prime Minister Tony Blair says following talks with US President George Bush.

25 November- A British Law Lord condemns the US for a "monstrous failure of justice"

Lord Steyn, says that the prisoners at the Camp Delta base in Cuba are being held in conditions of "utter lawlessness".

2004

19 February- Foreign Office announces that five of the nine British men being held in Guantanamo Bay are to be released. They are named as Ruhal Ahmed, Tarek Dergoul, Jamal Udeen (also known as Jamal Al Harith), Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul.

9 March- The five arrive back in London to be questioned, though Jamal Udeen is soon released without charge.

10 March- Tarek Dergoul, Shafiq Rasul, Ruhal Ahmed, and Asif Iqbal are released without charge. All five subsequently allege they were abused and humiliated, and in some cases beaten, but US military officials deny their claims.

14 May - Former detainees Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal send an open letter to US President George Bush detailing alleged abuse. They said guards used strobe lights, dogs and loud rap music to extract information.

27 May - Louise Christian, solicitor for Feroz Abbasi and Martin Mubanga, lodges papers at the High Court seeking a judicial review of the government's moves to have them freed.

25 June - UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith says planned US military tribunals for terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay are unacceptable as they will not offer a fair trial.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith
Lord Goldsmith objected to US military trials of Cuba detainees

6 July - The US was not being "unreasonable" in refusing to release the last Britons at Guantanamo Bay, says Tony Blair, adding that he's not sure the security "machinery" is in place in the UK to ensure the detainees posed no threat.

31 July- The first of the military tribunals for detainees held by the US military at Guantanamo Bay takes place.

31 August - A lawyer prepares to visit two of the British detainees but is forbidden by a US government gagging order from saying anything to their families about the encounter.

8 September - A military tribunal rules for the first time that a Guantanamo prisoner should be freed, but no details about the man are released, not even his nationality.

The man in charge of the tribunals, US Navy Secretary Gordon England, says it's more "complicated" than it simply being a case of an innocent bystander imprisoned by mistake. Although more than 150 detainees have been let go to date, this is the first release under this process.

27 October - Four of the former British detainees launch a lawsuit against the US government. In the first action of its kind, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Ruhal Ahmed and Jamal al-Harith each demands 5.5m, alleging torture and other human rights violations.

A Pentagon official says the allegations are false and the men are not entitled to a payout because they were captured "in combat".

2005

6 January - The US defence department announces a new investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at the Cuba detention centre.

Documents published in December 2004 suggest FBI officials expressed concerns over the mistreatment of prisoners as far back as 2002.

11 January - The remaining four Britons held by the US in Guantanamo Bay will be returned to the UK "in the next few weeks", Jack Straw announces.

25 January - The Pentagon confirms it has transferred four British detainees into UK custody.

They arrive back at RAF Northolt and are immediately arrested under the Terrorism Act.

26 January - Martin Mubanga, now 32, Feroz Abbasi, 24, Richard Belmar, 25, and Moazzam Begg, 36, are freed without charge after police questioning at London's Paddington Green Police station.

They are reunited with their families.

A US official says Britain has undertaken to monitor the four.


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