Posts Tagged ‘extraordinary rendition’

CIA ‘put pressure on Britain to cover up its use of torture’

July 28, 2009

By David Rose | The Daily Mail/UK, July 25, 2009

Binyam Mohamed
‘Sensitive information’: The treatment of Binyam Mohamed is at the centre of a security row

The CIA has been secretly pressuring the British Government to help it cover up its use of torture, documents filed in the High Court have revealed.

The documents, to be discussed at a hearing this week, suggest that the UK authorities did everything they could to accede to the CIA’s wishes while at the same time trying to conceal the fact they were talking to the agency.

It is the latest twist in the saga of Binyam Mohamed, 30, the Ethiopian UK resident released from Guantanamo Bay in February after seven years in US captivity.

In an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday earlier this year, he told how he was captured in Pakistan, interrogated by the CIA, tortured, then sent to Morocco for further ‘medieval’ torture on a CIA ‘extraordinary rendition’ flight.

After 18 months there, he was tortured again in the CIA’s ‘dark prison’ in Afghanistan. He alleged that UK officials from MI5 were ‘complicit’ in his ordeal.

In a judgment in July last year, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones wrote a seven-paragraph summary of Mr Mohamed’s treatment, based on documents by US intelligence officials. The judges said this amounted to evidence he was tortured.

But the summary has been ‘redacted’ because Foreign Secretary David Miliband insists that if the court were to publish it, US intelligence agencies would cease to share information with Britain, so damaging UK security.

The court will make a final decision about publication after the hearing this week.

The only piece of evidence Mr Miliband’s lawyers have produced is a letter, redacted, unsigned and undated, with its letterhead concealed, which, they say, summarises the views of US President Barack Obama’s administration.

It states: ‘Public disclosure of the information contained in the seven paragraphs could likely result in serious damage to UK and US national security.

‘If it is determined that HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] is unable to protect information we provide to it, even if that inability is caused by your judicial system, we will necessarily have to review with the greatest care the sensitivity of information we can provide in future.’

After an order from the judges, Government lawyers were forced to admit the letter had been sent to an unnamed officer in MI6, and had been written by someone at the CIA.

Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said it was ‘deeply disappointing that the British Government seems to have been prepared to do the CIA’s bidding’.

U.N. Asked to Probe CIA Rendition

June 27, 2009

By William Fisher | Inter Press Service

NEW YORK, Jun 26 (IPS) – Human rights groups are asking United Nations officials to investigate the case of an Italian citizen and victim of the “extraordinary rendition” programme of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency who is currently being held in a Moroccan prison based on a confession coerced from him through torture.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Geneva-based Alkarama for Human Rights have requested that two U.N. Special Rapporteurs investigate the circumstances of Abou Elkassim Britel’s forced disappearance, rendition, detention and torture, and raise his case with the governments of the United States, Morocco, Pakistan and Italy.

The requests were made to the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on Torture and the on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism.

Continued >>

Guantánamo: we need the truth

February 26, 2009

Without transparency about Binyam Mohamed’s torture, the damage done will linger for years after the camp’s closure

With a stoic grace, Binyam Mohamed has described his return to the UK today after seven long years of detention in Guantánamo Bay as “more in sadness than in anger”.

I have met that sense of emptiness and loss before. I have worked with two constituents who returned to the UK after a long incarceration in Guantánamo. In both cases the men had been illegally taken, in the process known as extraordinary rendition, by the CIA from an African country; and in both cases there were allegations of torture and degrading treatment. The journey to rebuild a life and to reconnect with family has been long, slow and fraught with pain. How do you come to terms with the lost years, the shame of allegations you cannot refute, or to witnessing humanity at its very darkest? Binyam Mohamed will need his friends and family around him, and the time and space to move on. It will therefore fall to others to ask the vital questions he is too weary to ask for himself.

We must not be squeamish or turn a blind eye to what has happened to him. Over seven years he has been shackled and blindfolded, flown to dark prisons across the world and kept incommunicado. He has made allegations of systematic torture, and says he had up to 20 or 30 cuts made into his penis and genitalia, with chemicals poured on the wounds for extra pain. In Guantánamo, reports suggest he was routinely humiliated and abused, resulting in long periods on hunger strike in protest. In all this time, Mohamed was never charged with a crime.

We might have expected the government to protect a UK resident from such barbaric treatment. Instead, their fingerprints are all over his case file.

Torture is wrong, pure and simple. Civilised and democratic governments, including Britain, should have absolutely no role in a practice that is both ineffective and inhumane, and there is no excuse to put our so-called special relationship with the US before the rule of law. It is not enough to simply speak out against torture: the foreign secretary has a duty to help root out and end such practices.

We cannot stamp out torture unless we know why and how it was allowed to happen in the first place. Barack Obama’s commitment to close Guantánamo is a huge leap forward, but we need a full investigation to make sure that such fundamental basic principles can never be flouted again. Without this openness and transparency, the damage done by Guantánamo will linger on long after the detention camp is closed.

The Labour government should be standing up to the United States, not colluding in a cover-up. If British residents have been subjected to torture, and if our own government have turned a blind eye, then we have a right to know. If the British government is sitting on vital evidence then it should immediately release it to the public.

Binyam Mohamed has said that, when he asked a camp guard why he was being tortured, the guard replied, “It’s just to degrade you, so when you leave here, you’ll have the scars and you’ll never forget.”

We should not forget either. The wounds and scars inflicted on Mohamed are not just a personal tragedy for him, they also represent a vicious assault on the values and humanity of our country. Labour’s already bruised and battered human rights record lies in tatters. President Obama has promised a fresh start but, before the slate can be wiped clean, we have to be told the truth.

Sarah Teather is Liberal Democrat MP for Brent East and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Guantánamo Bay

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