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Four British Terrorist Suspects to Be Released

Britain says four of its citizens held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as suspected terrorists will be repatriated.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw made the announcement to parliament.

"The United States government has now agreed to the return of all four men to the United Kingdom," he said. "That decision follows intensive and complex discussions to address United States security concerns."

Mr. Straw says that when the men return to Britain, they will be subject to investigation.

"The four men will be returned in the next few weeks," he said. "Once they are back in the United Kingdom, the police will consider whether to arrest them under the Terrorism Act 2000 for questioning into possible terrorist activity. Any subsequent action will be a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service."

The Straw announcement is being widely welcomed by the detainees' families, their lawyers, and human rights activists who have campaigned for years for their freedom.

The foreign affairs spokesman of the opposition Liberal Democrat party, Menzies Campbell, said the men will be coming out of a legal limbo.

"The truth is, is it not, that the detention of these men violated all legal principle, that their civil rights were systematically and deliberately abused, and that they were denied due process, a cornerstone of American legal jurisprudence," he said.

Foreign Secretary Straw says it is important to recall that the Guantanamo Bay detentions sprang from the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. The detention camp in Cuba was opened after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan to hold suspected terrorists picked up on the battlefield.

The Defense Department in Washington issued a statement confirming the four Britons will be freed, along with one of the two Australians held in Cuba. The Pentagon says London and Canberra have agreed to work to prevent the men from engaging in or supporting terrorist activities. Washington says those security assurances were important in convincing the U.S. government to release the suspects.