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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 February 2006, 21:03 GMT
Imprisoned Britons returning home
Ian Nisbet and Maajid Nawaz
Ian Nisbet and Maajid Nawaz are led into a Cairo court
Three British Islamists who were jailed in Egypt over their membership of a banned group are due to return home.

Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst from London, and Maajid Nawaz from Essex, were all granted an early release from their five-year sentences.

The three are members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation which, it says, could now be banned in Britain under new laws.

A group spokesman said the men would return as heroes.

Friends and family will be waiting to greet the men when they land at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday morning, Hizb ut-Tahrir said.

Arrested

They were arrested in 2002 and admitted being members of the organisation but denied any political activity.

The three men, all in their 20s, were convicted in 2004 along with 23 Egyptians in the state security court, which allows no appeals.

These men were prisoners of conscience who were never accused even by the Egyptian authorities of violence, terrorism or militancy
Dr Imran Waheed Hizb ut-Tahrir

Dr Imran Waheed, a spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said: "We are very happy for the families of these men who have throughout campaigned tirelessly to raise the plight of prisoners of conscience in the Muslim world."

He said thoughts still remained with other members of the groups who remained in jail.

Dr Waheed added: "These men were prisoners of conscience who were never accused even by the Egyptian authorities of violence, terrorism or militancy.

Proscribing

"They were incarcerated solely for their political views and will rightfully return to Britain as heroes amongst the Muslim community in whose eyes they are not guilty of any crime."

But he added that they could be jailed for 10 years for their peaceful political views in the UK, if Tony Blair succeeds in proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain.

New laws could give the government power to ban groups which allegedly "glorify" terrorism.

Cairo finally agreed to the men's request for early release after they had served more than two thirds of their terms.

Following the imprisonment their families and friends in Britain mounted a campaign to secure their freedom.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International criticised their trial and said the men were convicted merely for expressing their views.




SEE ALSO:
Egypt jail trio rap UK 'apathy'
24 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Verdict on Egypt Britons delayed
25 Dec 03 |  England


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