Reprieve Hails Announcement by Spanish Judge to Drop Extradition Request for Former Guantánamo Bay Prisoners
Jamil El Banna and Omar Deghayes
Thursday 6th March 2008: Reprieve today confirms the decision by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon to drop his request for the extradition of former Guantánamo Bay prisoners Jamil El Banna and Omar Deghayes, both British residents. Reprieve expects that the decision will be communicated today to the British government and Senior District Judge Timothy Workman, who has been presiding over the extradition proceedings.
Jamil and Omar returned to the UK from Guantánamo Bay on 20 December 2007 after being cleared by the American government. Upon arrival at Luton Airport, Spain requested their extradition to answer terrorism charges.
Zachary Katznelson, Senior Counsel for Reprieve, said: “We are thrilled to hear that Judge Garzon has done the right thing and dropped his request for extradition of Jamil and Omar. These men suffered horrors for years at the hands of the United States. They never had a trial of any type, yet they served more than five years in a brutal prison. It is now time to let them rebuild their lives here in the UK – it’s where their families are and it’s where they call home.”
Zachary Katznelson continued: “Jamil and Omar were interrogated countless times about the Spanish allegations. The US found there was nothing to them. The UK government fully investigated the men before and upon their return home and found they had violated no laws. It would just have been cruel to put Jamil and Omar through yet more about the same allegations about which they have already been cleared. At long last, the men are fully free.”
For more information, please contact Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7131 3609
Notes to Editors
Jamil El Banna was seized in the Gambia in November 2002 after flying from London on a business trip. His seizure was based primarily on misinformation sent by British intelligence to its American counterparts. He was held in an underground CIA prison for weeks, then flown to Guantánamo Bay in February 2003. Omar Deghayes was seized by Pakistani authorities and handed over to the Americans. He was held in American prisons in Afghanistan then flown to Guantánamo Bay in August 2002.
Reprieve’s lawyers Clive Stafford Smith and Zachary Katznelson have represented Jamil and Omar before United States courts since 2005. Jamil and Omar are represented in the UK by solicitors from Birnberg Peirce and barristers Edward Fitzgerald, QC, Timothy Otty, QC, and Ben Cooper.