[JURIST] The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office [official website] said Tuesday that it has asked the United States to release five Guantanamo Bay detainees [press release] who were legal residents in the UK prior to their detention. The Foreign Office said that the five detainees - Saudi Arabian Shaker Aamer, Jordanian Jamil el Banna, Libyan Omar Deghayes, Ethiopian Binyam Mohamed and Algerian Abdennour Sameur - had been either granted refugee status, indefinite leave or exceptional leave to remain in the UK prior to being detained. The UK government also "welcomed recent steps taken by the US Government to reduce the numbers of those detained at Guantanamo Bay and to move towards the closure of the detention facility."
British officials under the government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair had refused to seek the release of British resident aliens held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], and el Banna and Deghayes were among a group of detainees who lost a court bid [JURIST report] to force the UK government to lobby the US for their release. Britain, however, made an exception [JURIST report] for Iraqi citizen Bisher al-Rawi [Wikipedia profile] in 2006 after learning that al-Rawi had previously aided Britain's domestic intelligence agency. Al-Rawi was released [JURIST report] in April after nearly five years in US custody as an enemy combatant. The UK government has said that all UK nationals detained at Guantanamo were returned to the UK by January 2005. AP has more.