UK releases ‘US torture evidence’

Binyam Mohamed said he was tortured in US custody following his arrest in Pakistan

February 10, 2010

A British court has
ordered the government to disclose classified information about the
treatment of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who said he was tortured
in US custody.

The information, contained in
seven paragraphs redacted from a high court judgement, described the
treatment of Binyam Mohamed by US authorities as "at the very least
cruel, inhuman and degrading".

It was released after judges at
an appeals court on Wednesday rejected the UK government’s claim that
disclosing the information would damage intelligence co-operation with
US agencies.

Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan
in April 2002, after which he says he was flown by the CIA to Morocco
and held for 18 months, where he says he was tortured. Morocco has
denied holding him.

‘Significant mental stress’

The redacted paragraphs
summarise an American account of Mohamed’s treatment by US authorities
before he was interviewed by a British intelligence agent in May 2002.

"It is
clear from these seven paragraphs that our authorities knew very well
what was happening to Mr Mohamed. Our hands are very dirty indeed"

Shami Chakrabarti

report that Mohamed had been "intentionally subjected to continuous
sleep deprivation" and "threats and inducements were made to him".

"His fears of being removed from United States custody and ‘disappearing’ were played upon," the information says.

The interviews by US
authorities, in which he was sometimes shackled, caused him
"significant mental stress and suffering", it said.

The text said that the treatment
would have been "in breach of the undertakings given by the United
Kingdom in 1972" if administered in Britain.

"Although it is not necessary
for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be
contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment by the United States authorities," it said.

David Miliband, Britain’s
foreign secretary, had argued that full disclosure of the information
could lead to reduced intelligence-sharing with the US and
prejudice Britain’s national security.

But in a statement following the ruling, Miliband said there would not be an appeal.

‘Resounding victory’

Lawyers for Mohamed said the decision was a "resounding victory for freedom of speech".

They had long claimed the secret
paragraphs prove he was mistreated and that the US and British
governments were complicit in his abuse.

Mohamed, 31, says he was tortured in Pakistan, and that interrogators in Morocco
beat him, deprived him of sleep and sliced his genitals with a scalpel.

He was later transferred to the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba before being released in February last year.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director
of the rights group Liberty, said a "full and broad" public inquiry
into British complicity in torture is needed in light of the
information contained in the newly released paragraphs.

"It shows the British
authorities knew far more than they let on about Binyam Mohamed and how
he was tortured in US custody," she said.

"It is clear from these seven
paragraphs that our authorities knew very well what was happening to Mr
Mohamed. Our hands are very dirty indeed."

MI5 has said it did not know Mohamed was being tortured, or held in Morocco.


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