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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 18:19 GMT
Families' joy at release news
Riasogh Ahmed
Riasogh Ahmed says his son Ruhal is not a terrorist
The release of five Britons from Guantanamo Bay US prison has been welcomed by their families.

The news was announced by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Thursday, who said they would be flown back to the UK in the next few weeks.

The father of Ruhal Ahmed, Riasogh Ahmed, from West Midlands, said: "My boy is one, so I am so happy."

Ruhal Ahmed has been held without charge for more than two years with more than 600 other terror suspects.

Riasogh Ahmed said his only contact with his 22-year-old son had been by letter over the past two years.

But he said his son's letters were censored making them difficult to understand.

"He is not a terrorist," he said.

DETAINEES BEING RELEASED
Shafiq Rasul, 24, of Tipton, West Midlands
Asif Iqbal, 20, of Tipton
Ruhal Ahmed, 21, of Tipton
Jamal Udeen, 35, from Manchester
Tarek Dergoul, 24, from east London
US-based lawyer Barbara Olshansky, who has never been allowed contact with clients Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, said she hoped to talk to them soon.

"Our hope this that as this moves forward we will be...able to facilitate their safe return to the UK and to hopefully a normal life."

Ms Olshansky said she still had concerns for two other clients among more than 600 terror suspects held at the US base on Cuba for two years without trial.

"The outcry has been from the very outset about a lack of process for these individuals," she told BBC News24.

The big question is, why weren't they released at least 18 months ago? What has happened since?
Stephen Jakobi
Fair Trials Abroad

She said there was a lack of process both in terms of international conventions to determine whether or not the men were prisoners of war and within the US constitution.

However, a growing sense of awareness among Americans about the detentions could have contributed to the release.

She said: "It took people a while here to understand fully the ramifications of what was being done."

Solicitor Stephen Jakobi of Fair Trials Abroad, who has campaigned for all the European detainees in Guantanamo Bay, said: "I am delighted that five are coming back.

Shafiq Rasul
Shafiq Rasul should be released in the next few weeks
"Each of these cases is a serious personal tragedy both for them and their families.

"The big question is, why weren't they released at least 18 months ago? What has happened since?"

Labour MP for West Bromwich West, which includes Tipton, Adrian Bailey, said he did not want to pre-judge any possible police action once the men returned.

"I have said from the start that they should be tried, charges be made clear and they should have the opportunity to answer them in accordance with the principles of British justice."

Families of the Britons have long pushed ministers to do more to return them to the UK, saying they have been in a legal black hole.

Mr Straw said the five would be flown home in the next few weeks and police would decide whether to arrest them.

It would be up to the police initially and then the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether they would face any charges under anti-terrorism laws in the British courts, he said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"For more than two years, Riasogh Ahmed has been waiting for this day"



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