Britain knew CIA tortured detainee

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The Independent Online

Britain knew that American agents were using barbaric torture techniques on terror suspects, including British resident Binyam Mohamed, it emerged yesterday. Secret reports sent between MI5 and the CIA in 2002 reveal that the American security services were using torture practices which included waterboarding, facial slaps and stress positions.

The extent of Britain's knowledge was made clear in the latest High Court judgment in the case of Binyam Mohamed, who claims Britain actively colluded in his torture while he was being unlawfully held by the Americans in Morocco seven years ago. Mr Mohamed alleges that his torture included the cutting of his genitals with a razor blade.

Yesterday's judgment says the treatment of Mr Mohamed was similar to that of Abu Zubaydah, allegedly a high-ranking al-Qa'ida terrorist who was subjected to the 10 torture practices used by the CIA at Guantanamo Bay.

David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, had argued that revealing details of the 10 torture techniques would threaten Britain's intelligence-sharing relationship with the US. But President Barack Obama ordered their publication earlier this year and the judges concluded they could refer to them. The first of the two reinstated paragraphs reads: "One of those memoranda dated August 1 2002, from Mr J S Bybee, Assistant Attorney-General, to Mr John Rizzo, acting General Counsel of the CIA, made clear that the techniques [the alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed] described were those employed against Mr Zubaydah, alleged to be a high-ranking member of al-Qa'ida."

The rest of the paragraph, which remained redacted from public versions of the judgment, is a quotation from the memo made public by Mr Obama.

In their latest ruling in the former Guantanamo detainee's case against the Foreign Office, the judges said: "Of itself, the treatment to which Mr Mohamed was subjected could never properly be described in a democracy as 'a secret' or an 'intelligence secret' or 'a summary of classified intelligence'."

The human rights group Reprieve accused Mr Miliband of using an "Alice in Wonderland" argument to suppress the details of the torture of Mr Mohamed. Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Edward Davey said: "David Miliband must end this shameful episode now."

Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones had redacted passages from a previous judgment after hearing argument on behalf of Mr Miliband that disclosure could jeopardise the UK's intelligence-sharing relationship with the US. They said the redacted material should be put back in because it was "essential" to their reasoning and no threat to national security. But the passages, apart from two paragraphs to which the Foreign Office no longer objects, will still not be made public yet because Mr Miliband is taking the issue to the Court of Appeal next month.