U.S. Will Not Seek Death Penalty Against Two British Nationals

Pentagon general counsel William J. Haynes II has assured British Prime Minister Tony Blair that the U.S. will not seek the death penalty against two British citizens facing trial on terrorism charges before military tribunals. The two men, Feroz Abbasi and Moazzam Begg, are among the 680 prisoners from 42 countries being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in connection with the campaign against terrorism. Prior to Blair's recent visit to Washington, during which he raised the issue with President Bush, the Prime Minister had pushed for the U.S. to extradite the two men to Britain. If that option were not available, he requested assurance of fair trials free of the prospect of a death sentence, which Britain bans. The agreement has raised questions of fairness among those international leaders representing other citizens who are expected to face military tribunals in the future. "We believe that whatever is being done has to be done on a non-discriminatory basis. That's the rule of law. There should be a uniform set of procedures followed," said Asad Hayauddin, a press attache at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.

(Washington Post, July 23, 2003) See International Death Penalty.