19 July 2003

US suspends proceedings against Guantanamo Britons

The United States has agreed to suspend controversial military court proceedings against British detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, pending talks with British legal officials, it was announced today.

The prime minister's official spokesman said a joint US-British statement, due to be released later today by the White House, would confirm the decision, which follows Tony Blair's talks yesterday on the subject with US President George Bush.

"The president listened to the concerns of the prime minister and we believe that this is the best way forward," the spokesman told reporters travelling with Mr Blair to Japan.

There are nine Britons being held at Guantanamo Bay - two were on an initial list of six detainees out of a total of 667 prisoners to be tried by a military tribunal in the camp.

Proceedings against the two are now off until a British legal team, led by the attorney general, meets a high-level American legal team to discuss "all aspects" of the nine Britons' cases next week.

A pity the man of steel did not argue this issue as vigourously about the Australians facing proceedings before military tribunals. Rather than argue that they should face a fair trial the government chose to leak prejudicial information about Hicks.

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