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Miliband defends 'torture' row documents gag

Foreign Secretary David Miliband today defended the non-disclosure of US intelligence after a furious row erupted between the British courts and the American administration over the Binyam Mohamed case.

Mr Miliband told the Commons that disclosure of the documents against the wishes of the US authorities would cause "real and significant damage to the national security and international relations of this country".

He denied that the US had threatened to "break off" intelligence co-operation with the UK if the intelligence was revealed.

His statement came after two senior judges said the US government had threatened to review its intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK if the material was placed in the public domain.

The documents contain details of the treatment by the US of Ethiopian Binyam Mohamed, a former UK resident being held in Guantanamo Bay, who claims British agencies were complicit in his torture.

The High Court ruled the dossier provided by the US authorities should remain secret, but bitterly criticised the Americans over the way they had sought to prevent the information from being released.

Mr Miliband said the courts had concluded that there was "no prejudice" to Mr Mohamed's case as a result of yesterday's judgment.

"The information in question is available to his US legal counsel. As the court said 'upholding the rule of law is most unlikely to depend on making the information public'.

"The issue at stake is not the content of the intelligence material but the principle at the heart of all intelligence relationships - that a country retains control of its intelligence information and it cannot be disclosed by foreign authorities without its consent.

"That is a principle we neglect at our peril."