Britain briefed my torturers, says ex-Guantanamo detainee
Secret telegrams show the link between US and UK officials in the case of Binyam Mohamed
Sunday 08 March 2009
Speaking for the first time since his release from Guantanamo Bay, Binyam Mohamed today claims that horrific torture he experienced while being held was directly influenced by the British Government.
Mr Mohamed, 30, a British resident, said secret telegrams sent by MI5 to the CIA show that the men responsible for his torture were being influenced by questions from the British security service in London.
He describes how, after his capture in Pakistan in 2002, he was flown to Rabat in Morocco, where his chest and genitals were repeatedly cut by Moroccan interrogators working to American instructions. The claims will add to pressure on the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, to release all the secret documents which human rights groups say will tell the full story of Britain's alleged collusion in the rendition and torture of Mr Mohamed.
Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice, also faces questions over what he knew, when he was Foreign Secretary, about MI5's involvement in the US rendition. The former Guantanamo prisoner, released two weeks ago, said that his torturers were being fed specific questions relating to his movements from the years he had lived in London. Speaking from a country house in the Home Counties, where he is still recovering from his ordeal, Mr Mohamed remembers clearly the moment when MI5's questions were first channelled by his Moroccan interrogators. He said: "They started bringing British files to the interrogations – not one, but several of them, thick binders, some of them containing sheaves of photos of people who lived in London. It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London."
The High Court in London has already been told that Mr Mohamed was interviewed in Pakistan by an MI5 officer who introduced himself as John. But until now the allegation against Britain was that it only ever provided background information to the Americans during his subsequent detention in Morocco.
The new evidence is contained in verbatim notes taken by Mr Mohamed when he was given access to unclassified telegrams from a separate legal action he is fighting in the US courts. One MI5 memo sent during his detention in Pakistan suggests the British saw themselves as central to his interrogation: "We believe that our knowledge of the UK scene may provide contextual background useful during any continuing interview process. This may enable individual officers to identify any inconsistencies during discussions. This will place the detainee under more direct pressure and would seem to be the most effective way of obtaining intelligence on Mohamed's activities/plans concerning the UK."
Reprieve, the legal charity representing Mr Mohamed, believes this is the first clear evidence of the UK actually volunteering to help the US to "break" Mr Mohamed. But even after his rendition to Morocco, the documents show, MI5 continued to help to direct his interrogation. In September 2002, one document reveals, MI5 received a report from the US of an interview with Mr Mohamed. He was rendered to Morocco on 21 July, so at this time he had been there for more than two months. UK officials purported not to know where he was, but they knew he was in a third country, says Reprieve.
Weeks later, on 5 November, came the strongest evidence to emerge to date of British collusion in Mr Mohamed's rendition and torture, in the form of a telegram from MI5 to the CIA. Headed "Request for further detainee questioning", it stated: "This information has been communicated in confidence to the recipient government and shall not be released without the agreement of the British government. We would be grateful if the following can be passed to... Binyam Mohamed."
It went on to ask that his interrogators show him and ask him questions about a "photobook recently sent over". Large portions of the rest of the telegram have been redacted, but it added: "We would be grateful if the following could be put to Binyam Mohamed, in addition to the questioning above. Does Mohamed know [two lines redacted]? What was the man's name? Can Mohamed describe him? Where did they meet? Where was the man from? Who facilitated his travel from the UK? Where did this man go? What were his intentions? We would appreciate the opportunity to pose further questions."
Mr Mohamed said: "When I realised that the British were co-operating with the people who were torturing me, I felt completely naked... They sold me out."
The UK Government said that it neither condones nor colludes in torture. The Foreign Office said that the US security services have threatened to stop sharing intelligence with Britain if the courts order the public disclosure of evidence relating to Mr Mohamed.
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