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24 July 2003

U.S. Statement on British Nationals Detained at Guantanamo

DOD says based on evidence, death penalty will not be sought

The Department of Defense (DOD) says it has assured the United Kingdom that evidence against two British nationals detained at the American military facility at Guantanamo, Cuba has been reviewed and that "based on the evidence, if charged, the prosecution would not seek the death penalty in either case."

Feroz Abbasi and Moazzem Begg are being held as enemy combatants in the war on terrorism. Their cases were discussed July 21 and 22 by Defense Department General Counsel William Haynes and British Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith during Goldsmith's visit to Washington. DOD says no military commission proceedings would begin against any British nationals until after additional discussions, planned for later this month.

Following is a DOD press release:

(begin text)

United States Department of Defense
July 23, 2003

DOD STATEMENT ON BRITISH DETAINEE MEETINGS

The General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Hon. William J. Haynes II, met Monday and Tuesday with the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, Lord Peter Goldsmith, to discuss and review potential options for the disposition of British detainee cases.

The discussions were productive and led to a number of assurances from the U.S. about the military commission process.

Among other things, the U.S. assured the U.K. that the prosecution had reviewed the evidence against Feroz Abbasi and Moazzem Begg, and that based on the evidence, if charged, the prosecution would not seek the death penalty in either case. Additionally, the circumstances of their cases are such that they would not warrant monitoring of conversations between them and their defense counsels.

Yesterday's visit follows a July 18 decision by President Bush to discuss and review potential options for the disposition of British detainee cases and not to commence any military commission proceedings against British nationals pending the outcome of those meetings.

Individual enemy combatants held by the U.S. in the war on terrorism will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis based on their specific circumstances for an appropriate disposition of their case. To date, no enemy combatants have been charged for trial before a military commission. No military commission proceedings will begin against any British nationals until after further discussions planned for next week.

Discussions with Australian legal representatives are ongoing and no military commission proceedings will begin against any Australian nationals until completion of those discussions.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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