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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick