Terror suspects describe alleged torture 'in front of MI6 agents'

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The Independent Online

Three Pakistanis who were allegedly kidnapped and tortured by intelligence agents in Athens after the London bombings have claimed that they were threatened with being taken to England during their interrogation. Speaking for the first time in public since their alleged ordeal in July last year, the Athens-based Pakistanis said they were beaten and received death threats during their interrogation.

The Greek and British governments have denied accusations that intelligence agents from their countries took part in the incident after a Greek newspaper published the names of the alleged MI6 station chief in Athens and of eight Greek agents allegedly involved.

The British Government has issued a gagging order to prevent the publication of the alleged British agent's name, which was ignored by the website of Socialist Worker yesterday.

One of the Pakistanis, Mohammed Munir, 34, said he was taken to a separate room and interrogated for two and a half hours. He was asked, in Greek, about the London bombings. "They asked whether I knew what had happened in London, and threatened to take me with them to England," he said.

He added that during the questioning he was beaten up and was later warned never to mention it again. "They said that if we did they would slit our throats."

However, the Pakistanis did not confirm that British agents were present, referring only to "two male non-Greek speakers, one of them black". However, Mr Munir's interpreter, Irfan Tamour, said that others from the group had told him that they had heard some of the captors speaking English.

The Foreign Office reiterated a denial that British agents were present at the alleged questioning of a total 28 Pakistanis in Athens. The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, described the report that MI6 agents were involved as "complete nonsense" last week.

However, Frangiskos Ragousis, a lawyer for several of the Pakistanis, said: "We knew from the start that the people co-ordinating the operation were non-Greeks. Since then we have acquired plenty of evidence that they were MI6. We know that a British agent was in the car when five of the Pakistanis were abducted. We also know that the car used was not the type Greek intelligence normally use."

The lawyer said MI6 officers broke the law after failing to report that terrorism suspects were mistreated by Greek officials during a covert operation. British law requires officers to report any abuse they witness and forbids MI6's collusion in torture or abuse.

Mr Ragousis said: "It makes no difference if it was a Greek agent beating someone up while the MI6 guy stood there and watched in order not to get his hands covered in blood - he was still present."

At yesterday's press conference, Mr Munir said he and six roommates were grabbed in their Athens home by men in plain clothes who said they were Greek police officers. "They handcuffed me, made me face the wall and started to beat me. They pulled our shirts over our heads so we couldn't see and drove us to an unknown place," he said. "I was there for two days, and then they took me for five days to another place, where they continued to interrogate me."

He said he was then interrogated by 10 to 12 people in a separate place. Mr Munir's brother in Pakistan was also questioned by Pakistani police, he said.

Mr Ragousis has filed a civil lawsuit against people named by the Greek newspaper Proto Thema. He is pressing charges of abduction and torture.

Greece has launched a judicial investigation into the incident.

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