Flight to freedom: In this exclusive photo, Salahidin Abdulahat — also known by his nickname Abdul Semet — is pictured aboard the private jet that carried him to Bermuda. The 32-year-old was 24 when he last tasted freedom.
Flight to freedom: In this exclusive photo, Salahidin Abdulahat — also known by his nickname Abdul Semet — is pictured aboard the private jet that carried him to Bermuda. The 32-year-old was 24 when he last tasted freedom.
Bermuda may lose a key tool in its diplomatic arsenal as part of the fallout from the row over the Guantanamo refugees.

The U.K. and Bermuda have a long standing 'agreement of general entrustment', which allows the island to sign treaties and understandings with other countries.

However, Britain is now reviewing the agreement because Premier Ewart Brown "broke the spirit" of the arrangement by sneaking the four Chinese Muslims onto the island.

The Foreign Office in London yesterday confirmed it was studying the agreement of entrustment before deciding if it needs to be altered or taken away. Governor Richard Gozney said yesterday: "The spirit of general entrustment was broken. Naturally we want to review it. "It has worked rather well over the years but since the spirit was broken that is one of the things we have to look at."

Britain is legally and morally responsible for all policy decisions in Bermuda that relate to security and foreign affairs.

However, the general entrustment agreement gives the island a fair degree of autonomy when dealing with other countries.

In recent weeks and months the agreement has allowed Finance Minister Paula Cox to sign tax transparency treaties with other counties.

It also allowed for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Bermuda and Nova Scotia on the subject of education. The agreement of general entrustment does require Bermuda to keep London and the governor fully informed of all developments. It is this requirement that London believes Dr. Brown broke during the Guantanamo affair. Britain and Sir Richard were not told about the Guantanamo refugees until they had already arrived on the island. Sir Richard said yesterday he has spoken with Dr. Brown and made it clear his actions were "unacceptable."

Government House also said yesterday that police have still not received sufficient documentation to carry out a full security check on the four Guantanamo refugees.

Sir Richard's office said in a statement: "So far the Commissioner and his experts in the Bermuda Police Service have not had from the Bermuda Government, who brought the Uighurs here and without any advance notice to the police, the information they need to make a proper assessment.

"Their provisional assessment, to a handful of ministers and Government House, made clear that the Bermuda Police Service have been given neither the political background nor any available criminal background on the four men; nor have the police been given any detailed psychological assessments. Without a good deal more information the police cannot make a professional assessment of the likely future intentions of the four Uighurs. This information is being sought from abroad, after which the Bermuda and British security authorities hope to be able to take an informed view."

The U.S. says it has carried out exhaustive studies on the four refugees and has found them to not be a security risk. However, British authorities say they cannot rely on the testimony of a third-party country and are furious they were not given time to carry out their own assessment before the refugees were landed. The police said yesterday that the refugees have been classified "high risk" because of the lack of documentation. A statement from police read: "On Friday morning, June 12, the Commissioner received a folder with unclassified information relating to the Uighurs. On receipt of the documents the Bermuda Police Service conducted a 'preliminary threat assessment'.  

"Based on the limited information available, the overall threat assessment was deemed to be 'high'. This was conveyed to the Governor and Minister Burch on Friday afternoon. Simultaneously, contact was made with our security agency partners and a more comprehensive threat assessment was commenced. This process is not yet complete.

  "The public should not be unduly alarmed at the designation of 'high risk.' The status of 'high' has been arrived at largely because of the lack of specific information that has been made available. It is therefore not possible at this time to put any further context around the assessment until a number of questions have been answered."