Exclusive: UK intelligence services accused of complicity in torture of British citizen

Ali Adorus was subjected to electrocution, hooding and beatings during his 18 month imprisonment in Ethiopia

Britain’s intelligence and security agencies are facing claims that they were complicit in the brutal torture of a British man secretly detained in an African prison.

Ali Adorus, a security guard from east London, was subjected to electrocution, hooding and beatings during his 18 month imprisonment in Ethiopia, according to allegations made against Ethiopia and Britain to the United Nations High Commission.

Before leaving Britain to visit family in Ethiopia in 2012, Mr Adorus had complained that he had been targeted by the Metropolitan Police and the Security Service, MI5, over alleged links to Islamic extremism.

Now his lawyers say that some information contained in a false confession, which he claims was beaten out of him in an Ethiopian prison, could only have been provided by “British intelligence”. It is the latest case in which Britain has been accused of complicity in the torture of UK nationals and residents.

Mr Adorus, who has a wife and child in the UK, has been put on trial for terrorism offences in Ethiopia and if found guilty could be sentenced to death.

The Independent has seen a report written by the British embassy in Addis Ababa and sent to the Ethiopian government which raises the UK’s “grave concern” about his detention.

The document, written by officials at the embassy, names the Ethiopian senior police officer alleged to have carried out the torture. It says: “The British government takes all allegations of torture of British nationals very seriously. The treatment alleged is prohibited under international human rights treaties.”

The report adds that the failure of the Ethiopian authorities to inform the embassy of his detention is of “grave concern to the British government”. It says that he alleges he has been “handcuffed for long periods”, was “hooded and then beaten” and “was electrocuted”.

Last night his wife said: “On the surface the Foreign Office appears to be helpful; they are consistently blaming the Ethiopians for the fact nothing is moving forward.

“But without me pushing them or lawyers here pushing them, they would not visit my husband, or follow up with his medical issues or follow up on his complaint of torture.

“It seems like the British have left him at the hands of the Ethiopians to do what they want with him.”

Mr Adorus, who was born in Ethiopia before coming to the UK as a young boy, was arrested on 25 January 2013 on a bus during a family visit, and taken to a police station without any access to a lawyer. During his custody, he signed a forced confession in Amharic – a language he does not speak – after four days of beatings, he alleges.

 

He is accused by the Ethiopians of being a member of a number of terrorist groups and of waging a jihadist war since 2006. But his lawyers say the case against him is fabricated and have made a petition to the United Nations, which is now considering the complaint.

Mr Adorus, whose case has been investigated by the human rights group Cage, has a history of testicular cancer and was being monitored regularly in London. Mr Adorus and two friends had previously complained that they had been questioned by police and MI5 after returning from a safari holiday in Tanzania in 2009.

Asim Qureshi, research director of Cage, which campaigns against abuses associated with the war on terror, said: “The case of Ali Adorus is yet another example of a British citizen who was harassed by UK security services and who ends up arbitrarily detained and tortured in a third country. The UK has failed to protect him from torture.”

Last year Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, said: “We do not participate, incite, encourage or condone mistreatment or torture.”

But the complaint to the UN states: “It is alleged that intelligence officials provided direct and/or indirect assistance to the Ethiopian authorities in carrying out the arrest and torture of Mr Adorus.”

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We can confirm the detention of a British national in Ethiopia. We are providing consular assistance. We do not discuss the details of individual consular cases. The FCO takes all allegations of torture seriously.”

A spokeswoman from the Ethiopian embassy said: “We cannot comment on active cases.”

The Metropolitan Police said it was unable to comment.

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