There are at least 680 people being held at
More than 70 MPs from across the political divide have called
for two British men currently interned at Guantanamo bay to be
repatriated to face trial in Britain.
In a House of Commons motion, the MPs cast doubt as to whether
Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi will get a fair trial.
On Monday Foreign Office Minister Chris Mullin said the UK had
"strong reservations" about US plans to use military tribunals to
try the two men.
Under the proposed trial arrangements it is understood that Mr
Begg and Mr Abbasi will be denied the right to choose their own
According to the motion, they face a choice between pleading
guilty and being given 20 years, or if they fail to do that and are
convicted they face the death penalty.
The MPs also raise concern about the mental state of the two men
after 18 months of incarceration in cages two metres wide and only
30 minutes of exercise twice a week.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw raised the concerns over the
treatment of Mr Begg and Mr Abbasi when he spoke to his US
counterpart Colin Powell at the weekend.
In Monday's House of Commons statement Mr Mullin said the
government expected the US to abide by international standards for
The UK would also make clear its "fundamental opposition" to the
death penalty if the issue arose.
Mr Mullin said he expected the US "to meet internationally
accepted standards of a fair trial" and the government would "follow
the process very carefully".
There are at least 680 suspected al-Qaeda and Taleban members at
the US naval base in Cuba.
Legal black hole
US President George W Bush decided on Thursday that six of them,
including Britons Mr Begg and Mr Abbasi and Australian David Hicks,
should face trial in a military tribunal rather than in a regular
The announcement sparked a wave of protest from human rights
groups who said the tribunals would be a "legal black hole".
The UK government has already expressed concern about the men's
access to lawyers, the standards of evidence and their rights to
appeal in the case of any guilty verdicts.
Former cabinet minister and Tory MP Douglas Hogg said that
America's reputation would suffer if they proceeded with the trials
by tribunal which he described as "wrong" and "potentially unjust".
Mr Mullin responded: "In our view it's strongly in the interests
of the US that these trials are conducted in a credible and
transparent fashion because it obviously will affect the respect
with which the US is held throughout the world."
The minister insisted that the government would not indulge in
"megaphone diplomacy" in order to get its point across.