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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 02:02 GMT
UK police release Guantanamo four
Clockwise from top left: Moazzam Begg, Martin Mubanga, Feroz Abbasi and Richard Belmar
The four were held at Guantanamo Bay for nearly three years
Four British men held at Guantanamo Bay for three years as "enemy combatants" have been freed by UK police.

Martin Mubanga, Feroz Abbasi, Richard Belmar and Moazzam Begg were being reunited with their families at a location of their choice, police said.

The men, from Birmingham and London, were questioned at Paddington Green police station after returning from Cuba but were released without charge.

The US accused them of having al-Qaeda links and says they are still a threat.

'Significant threat'

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Shortly before 9pm four men arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on January 25 were released without charge.

"This followed liaison between police and the Crown Prosecution Service."

We continue to believe that these individuals pose a significant threat
US defence official

He said the men were arrested under section 41 of the act, which referred to the alleged involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

Human rights groups have welcomed their release.

Amnesty International spokesman Neil Durkin said the four should not have been detained "a minute longer than necessary".

Azmat Begg, father of Moazzam, declared himself "very, very pleased and glad" that his son was back in Britain.

Washington had claimed all four were "enemy combatants" who trained at camps run by al-Qaeda.

The Pentagon says they were freed after the UK government promised they would not be a threat to the national security of the US or any of its allies.

Razor wire and prisoners at Guantanamo Bay's Camp Delta

A US defence official says they have confidence in the British government's ability to deal with the four men.

But the official added: "We continue to believe that these individuals pose a significant threat."

BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Margaret Gilmore says the "deal" between the UK and US involved an agreement to "keep tabs" on the men.

Mr Abbasi, 24, Mr Belmar, 25, Mr Mubanga, 32, all from London and Mr Begg, 36, from Birmingham, returned to the UK on Tuesday evening in an RAF plane.

Their release from custody on Wednesday comes as Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced that foreign terror suspects will no longer be held without charge in UK prisons.

Instead he plans a system of "control orders" where terror suspects from the UK or abroad would be put under house arrest.

They should be treated as torture victims
Louise Christian

BBC Chief Political Correspondent Mark Mardell says under the new system the four might not have walked free.

Earlier on Wednesday, Louise Christian, lawyer for Mr Abbasi and Mr Mubanga, said the detainees' families were "desperate" to be reunited with their loved ones.

But she said they had turned down the chance to see their relatives in custody as a police officer would have been present.

Asked about claims that the men had been tortured while in US custody, she said: "It is difficult for torture victims to talk about the torture. I am very worried about them.

"They should be treated as torture victims."

Clive Stafford Smith, lawyer for Mr Begg and Mr Belmar said he expects that his clients will sue the American government.

Find out why the men have been released


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