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Iraqi Returns to Britain after Guantanamo 'Nightmare'

Agence France Presse

LONDON - Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi held at the US base at Guantanamo Bay for nearly five years, said Sunday his "nightmare is finally at an end" in a statement issued after he returned to Britain, where he lives.He also spoke of the "hopelessness" and "extreme isolation" suffered by detainees and asked to be granted time with his family to come to terms with his "horrific experience". 0402 02

Al-Rawi was arrested in November 2002 while on a business trip to Gambia.

His mother, who has campaigned for his release, claims he was there to help his older brother Wahab set up a peanut oil processing business.

News of Al-Rawi's impending release was announced by Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett in a written statement to parliament last week. Although he is not a British citizen, he has the right to live in this country.

Beckett said it would follow "extensive discussions to address the security implications of Mr Al-Rawi's return."

Following his release, the number of detainees at Guantanamo Bay thought to be residents of Britain stands at eight. There are no British citizens currently at the detention camp.

Clive Stafford-Smith, his lawyer, has said that Al-Rawi was showing signs of secure housing unit psychosis, which affects prisoners held in high-security compounds, after spending four years in detention.

"The conditions in which he is being held are worse than any death row I've ever seen," the lawyer has said.

Al-Rawi's immediate family fled Iraq more than 20 years ago after his father was arrested and tortured under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime.

Copyright © 2007 Agence France Presse.

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