The terror suspect, the agent, and 15 months of hell in a Moroccan jail

It was Binyam Mohamed's determination to break his heroin addiction which led the British resident to exchange his life in London for one in the Islamic state of Afghanistan. Leaving his job as a Kensington caretaker, he arrived in Kabul around June 2001.

His timing could not have been worse. Three months later, on 11 September, al-Qa'ida launched terrorist attacks in New York, killing 3,000 people and triggering the invasion of Afghanistan the following year.

As the US-led coalition and Northern Alliance forces swept through the country, Mr Mohamed, 30, fled across the border into Pakistan. His attempt to fly out of Karachi airport on a false passport brought him to the attention of the Pakistani security forces who delivered him into the hands of the Americans. His presence in Afghanistan and admission that he had attended military training camps made him, in the eyes of the CIA, a prime terror suspect.

As the war on terror gathered momentum, it seemed America was prepared to sanction torture to achieve its aims. Britain, according to Mr Mohamed's lawyer, simply turned a blind eye to their allies' unlawful practices. Details of the abuse Mr Mohamed underwent in Pakistan are contained in the "redacted" (blacked-out) section of the British High Court judgment on his case that the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, is refusing to release, claiming that to do so would damage the intelligence-sharing relationship with America.

When an MI5 officer went to interrogate Mr Mohamed on 17 May 2002, Mr Mohamed claims he was made fully aware of what had been happening. In an interview given to the British media this month, Mr Mohamed described the agent, who he says gave his name as "John", as being aged about 30, about 5ft 10in, stocky and having short, black hair and a goatee.

He added: "There was another guy with him, about the same size with a full, dark beard. I don't know if he was British or American. The Americans had already been threatening to send me somewhere where I would be tortured far worse, like Jordan or Egypt. I was given a cup of tea and asked for one sugar. The other guy told me: 'You'll need more than one sugar where you're going.'"

He was quizzed about a "dirty bomb" plot and his knowledge of nuclear bomb websites. John dutifully recorded that he claimed the website was a joke. Mr Mohamed says: "John told me that if I co-operated he'd tell the Americans to be more lenient with my treatment." In a confidential memo John wrote: "I told Mohamed that he had an opportunity to help us and help himself. The US authorities will be deciding what to do with him and this would depend to a very large degree on his co-operation. ... If he persuaded me he was co-operating fully then ... I would explore what could be done for him with my US colleagues."

But it appears MI5 felt he wasn't fully co-operating. John's memo ended: "While he appeared happy to answer any questions, he was holding back a great deal of information on who and what he knew in the UK and in Afghanistan."

Mr Mohamed was flown – trussed, gagged, blindfolded and wearing a giant nappy – from Islamabad to Rabat in Morocco on 21 July 2002. He had, he said, already endured beatings at the hands of an interrogator named Marwan: "They cut off my clothes with some kind of scalpel. I was totally naked. I was afraid to ask Marwan what would happen because it would show fear. I tried to put on a brave face.

"They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Then they cut my left chest. One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction.

"I was trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming. Marwan seemed to smoke half a cigarette and start another. They must have done this 20 to 30 times in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. They cut all over my private parts. One of them said it would be better just to cut it off, as I would only breed terrorists."

This, Mr Mohamed says, was repeated many times in the next 15 months. Under torture, his confessions became ever more elaborate. "They had fed me enough through their questions for me to make up what they wanted to hear. I confessed to it all. There was the plot to build a dirty nuclear bomb, and another to blow up apartments in New York with their gas pipes."

Even after this treatment, papers disclosed to him for a US court case show that MI5 was colluding with his torturers. In late September 2002, one document reveals: "The Service received a report from the US of an interview of Mr Mohamed." On 30 September 2002, MI5 held a case conference about him with their US colleagues in London.

Mr Mohamed was "rendered" by the CIA again in January 2004 and taken to Afghanistan. "When I got to Kabul a female agent started taking pictures of my genitals. She was shocked. When they removed my diaper she could see blood was still oozing from the cuts on my penis. For the first two weeks they had me on antibiotics and they took pictures of my genitals every day."

Later that year Mr Mohamed was transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was held for five years before his release last month.

Torture: The legal minefield

What laws may have been broken?

Aiding and abetting torture in the UK or overseas is an offence under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act. And Section 52 of the UK's International Criminal Court Act of 2001 provides for prosecution of anyone who "assists in concealing" a war crime, such as torture.

What is the maximum prison sentence for these offences?

Life imprisonment. But someone found guilty of complicity will draw a lesser sentence than a defendant convicted of the actual crime of torture.

What will the police investigation entail?

A team of senior police officers will interview the MI5 agent who questioned Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan. They may also speak to his superiors about any covert policy of colluding in CIA torture or engaging in a policy of deliberate ignorance of the facts.

Will the police investigation answer all the questions surrounding Britain's alleged collusion in torture?

No. The Metropolitan Police inquiry will focus on substantive criminal offences where there is hard evidence to link individuals to any alleged wrongdoing.

The political dimension of any covert policy on torture is unlikely to be uncovered. Yesterday Tory leader David Cameron was among those leading the calls for a much wider inquiry by a former judge or senior civil servant.

"As well as having this investigation by the Attorney General, we do need a more targeted and clear review to look at whether the right processes and procedures were in place," he said.

"I don't think the Government is doing enough to reassure Britain's good name and to get rid of this potential stain that hangs over us."

Will the American, Moroccan or Pakistani agents accused of carrying out the torture on Mr Mohamed ever face justice?

This seems more and more unlikely. None of these governments have disclosed the names of any agents involved in Mr Mohamed's various interrogations, which he claims took place between 2002 and 2004. Then-US president George Bush took no steps to prosecute anyone over the secret rendition programme. Nor has a change of US administration led to a change of policy. The only real prospect of a prosecution would be under war crimes legislation, which authorises the extradition of suspects who have not been dealt with by their own countries' judicial systems. A spokeswoman for Reprieve, the legal action charity that is representing Mr Mohamed, said: "If US personnel are found to be involved in these war crimes, they should be extradited to the UK for prosecution... they will clearly not be held accountable in the US."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea