UK to investigate MI5 role in US detainee abuse

UK Attorney General Baroness Scotland said March 26 that police will conduct an investigation into claims that an agent of the country’s MI5 intelligence service took part in the allegedly abusive interrogation of former Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed. Scotland said she determined the investigation was necessary after reviewing allegations that an MI5 agent gave US CIA agents questions that were asked of Mohammed during his alleged torture in Morocco. Mohamed, a native of Ethiopia who claims to have been transferred to Morocco for torture under a US program of extraordinary rendition, said he obtained the documents through the US legal process while seeking his release from Guantánamo Bay.

Mohamed, an Ethiopian refugee who worked as a caretaker at a mosque in West London, claims he traveled to Afghanistan in June 2001 to kick his drug habit but was arrested in Karachi in April 2002 after using a false passport to fly to London. He was interrogated in Pakistan and was then flown to Morocco, where he was detained and tortured for two years while his family desperately tried to find out what had happened to him. He re-surfaced at the US detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan, in May 2004 and was then transferred to Guantánamo, where he confessed to attending lectures by Osama bin Laden and being sent to the US to carry out a “dirty bomb” attack. Mohamed claims he confessed as a result of torture and the charges against him were dropped in October last year. (Jurist, The Independent, March 26

According to British High Court documents, the US tried to force Mohamed to drop allegations of torture in return for his release. He apparently refused the extraordinary plea bargain offered by the US after terrorism charges against him had already been dropped. Under the deal, he could win his freedom if he pleaded guilty to two lesser charges, and agreed not to speak to the media about his ordeal. He rejected the offer because he says he wanted to speak out to prevent anyone else going through what he had. As soon as he returned to the UK, he told the BBC: “Even now I don’t feel I am free, I mean it’s been seven years of literal darkness that I’ve been through that it’s kind of coming back to life has taken me some time and literally I am dead.” (FSRN, March 24)

See our last posts on the torture scandal.

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