UK attorney general to investigate Binyam Mohamed’s torture claims

UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has unexpectedly asked in a government letter Attorney General Baroness Scotland to begin a criminal investigation into claims that both CIA and MI5 agents contributed to the torture of Binyam Mohamed. Smith also provided Scotland with evidence relating to Mohamed’s claims that CIA and MI5 agents were involved in his detention and rendition to Morocco were complicit in the abuse he allegedly suffered while being interrogated there.

Richard Stein of Leigh Day, which is acting for Mohamed in the British courts, said:

“The Convention Against Torture rightly imposes an obligation on signatory states to investigate cases of torture, and we look forward to a full and open airing of the crimes committed against Mr Mohamed and a thorough investigation by the Police and Crown Prosecution Service into this case.”

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman, linked the move to a greater degree of accountability coming into government on both sides of the Atlantic in anticipation of a new president in Washington.

“It seems the increasing likelihood of a progressive White House is forcing the [UK] government to clean up its act, on everything from Guantánamo Bay to Diego Garcia,” Mr Davey said. “But it is too little too late.”

Presidential candidate Barack Obama reiterated recently his desire to close Guantanamo Bay as soon as possible, without pinning himself down to a time-frame. Both presidential clandidates also want to reform the CIA. In the weekend, Ireland announced that it will raise its opposition to extraordinary rendition, Guantánamo Bay and the use of torture with the new American administration. The decision was made by a new Cabinet sub-committee to examine aspects of international human rights.

Andy Worthington: “The Home Secretary’s unprecedented decision was based on evidence uncovered during a judicial review of Mr. Mohamed’s case in the High Court this summer. This established that an MI5 agent had acted illegally when he interrogated Mr. Mohamed during his “unlawful” detention in Pakistani custody, but there is clearly more to the story, involving other evidence of the activities of both MI5 and the CIA. Much of this was only heard in closed sessions in the high court, when the agent was being cross-examined, but the judges also gave weight to an admission, on behalf the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, that Mr. Mohamed had “established an arguable case” that he had been subjected to torture in US control.

2 Responses

  1. […] letter follows an unprecedented decision by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, to ask the attorney general to investigate prime facie […]

  2. […] had not been used for rendition, as well as the statements by the Prime Minister in this regard; the referral by the UK Home Secretary to the UK Attorney General of the question of possible ‘…; the High Court’s ruling of 5 February 2009 that it was unable to order the disclosure of […]

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