Former British resident, Binyam Mohamed may soon leave Guant namo

January 20, 2009

GUANTÁNAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — A former British resident imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay since 2002 claims he is about to be released, the man’s attorney said Sunday.

Binyam Mohamed said in a letter to his attorney that “several reliable sources” told him his release to Britain had recently been approved.

The United States accused him of plotting a radioactive bomb attack on the United States, but the allegation was withdrawn in October.

Mohamed said he had been on hunger strike to protest his confinement.

“I should have been home a long time ago,” he said in the letter, which was dated Dec. 29 but had to be reviewed by U.S. authorities before it could be publicly released.

His attorney, Clive Stafford Smith of the British rights group Reprieve, said he has received no official confirmation.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Sunday it would continue to press for Mohamed’s release, but the U.S. had so far declined to free him “due to security concerns.”

The United States holds about 245 men at Guantánamo, mostly on suspicion of terrorism or links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. President-elect Barack Obama has said he intends to close the offshore prison on a U.S. Navy base in Cuba.

Mohamed was born in Ethiopia and moved to Britain as a teenager. He was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and sent to Guantánamo.

A spokeswoman for the detention center referred questions about the case to Pentagon officials, who did not immediately respond. U.S. authorities typically refuse to confirm releases until after they have occurred.