U.K. Government Must Provide Information About Rendition, Disappearance and Torture, Urges Amnesty International

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WASHINGTON – August 29 – Amnesty International today called on the government of the U.K. to give the lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, a former U.K. resident imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, information which it holds and which might help him to show that he has been a victim of torture and other ill-treatment in the U.S.-led program of renditions and secret detention.

“Providing this information would be a first step towards accountability for the U.K.’s involvement in the U.S. program of rendition and secret detention, as well as in the torture and other ill-treatment of terrorist suspects,” said Halya Gowan, a spokesperson on Europe at Amnesty International.

Binyam Mohamed was arrested at Karachi airport in April 2002 and transferred to U.S. custody three months later. In July 2002, he was transferred on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-registered plane to Morocco, where he was held for about 18 months. There, Binyam Mohamed reports he was tortured, including having his penis cut by a razor blade. He was allegedly subjected to further torture after his further rendition to the “dark prison” in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2004. After five months, he was transferred to the U.S. airbase in Bagram, and suffered further alleged ill-treatment there. Binyam was transferred in mid-September 2004 to Guantanamo where he has remained ever since.

“Statements that Binyam Mohamed made in the course of his unlawful detention will form the basis of charges against him if he is tried before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay – a trial which would be unfair, and could involve charges which could be punishable by death. Any information the U.K. authorities have which relates to violations of his human rights or could affect Binyam Mohamed’s defense should be disclosed to his lawyers without any further delay,” said Gowan.

Following last week’s ruling by the High Court of England and Wales, that the United Kingdom has a duty to disclose this information to lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, today the High Court postponed its decision on an application made by the U.K. Foreign Secretary to be allowed to withhold this information. The Foreign Secretary claimed that its disclosure would damage the U.K.’s intelligence-sharing arrangements with the United States, and thus threaten the United Kingdom’s national security. The Foreign Secretary has been given another week to provide the court with a fuller explanation for continuing to withhold this information.

Binyam Mohamed’s lawyers need the information now, before a decision is taken about whether he should be tried by a military commission in the United States. It is essential to their claim that the information on which the charges against him are based was improperly obtained.

Recent revelations of secret detainee transfers through Diego Garcia, and around the Untied Kingdom’s involvement in the rendition and secret detention of U.K .residents Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, show that the United Kingdom can no longer hide its involvement in these human rights violations.

“Secrecy with the excuse of protecting diplomatic relations can no longer be used to justify the failure to investigate the involvement of U.K. agents in human rights violations,” Gowan said.

Amnesty International calls on the U.K. authorities to immediately instigate a genuinely independent and impartial public inquiry into all allegations of U.K. involvement in the renditions program.

BACKGROUND

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, claims that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan and Guantanamo. The detainee claims that statements he made–which, as the High Court affirmed, will form the basis of evidence against him if he is tried by a military commission -were the products of his unlawful detention, torture and ill-treatment.

In August 2007, after a sustained campaign by human rights activists and lawyers in the United Kingdom, the U.K. government requested the release from Guantanamo Bay a number of former U.K. residents, including Binyam Mohamed. Although three men were returned in December 2007, the U.S. authorities refused the request for the release and return of Binyam Mohamed. The U.K. authorities say that they are continuing to request the release and return of Binyam Mohamed.

The U.K. government has disclosed the information that it holds about Binyam Mohamed to the U.S. authorities; and the U.S. authorities have given the U.K. a promise that this information will be given to Binyam Mohamed’s military lawyer in the event that his case should be sent for trial before a military commission. But to date neither the United Kingdom nor the United States has disclosed that information–relevant to the rendition of Binyam Mohamed and his subsequent treatment in detention–to his lawyers.

Amnesty International believes that the military commission procedures at Guantanamo Bay are fundamentally unfair, and has called for the military commission system to be abandoned, and for all those still held at Guantanamo Bay to be released or given a genuinely fair trial before federal civilian courts without delay.

For more information, please visit Amnesty International’s website at www.amnestyusa.org or contact the AIUSA media office.

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