Sunday, March 08, 2009

Britain briefed my torturers, says ex-Guantanamo detainee.

It was only a matter of time before Binyam Mohamed started to talk, and he has now done his first interview since his release from Guantanamo Bay, and it won't make easy reading for David Miliband and others.

Speaking for the first time since his release from Guantanamo Bay, Binyam Mohamed today claims that horrific torture he experienced while being held was directly influenced by the British Government.

Mr Mohamed, 30, a British resident, said secret telegrams sent by MI5 to the CIA show that the men responsible for his torture were being influenced by questions from the British security service in London.

Are these telegrams part of the proof which British courts complained that they were being prevented from making public?
The former Guantanamo prisoner, released two weeks ago, said that his torturers were being fed specific questions relating to his movements from the years he had lived in London. Speaking from a country house in the Home Counties, where he is still recovering from his ordeal, Mr Mohamed remembers clearly the moment when MI5's questions were first channelled by his Moroccan interrogators. He said: "They started bringing British files to the interrogations – not one, but several of them, thick binders, some of them containing sheaves of photos of people who lived in London. It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London."
There certainly appears to be evidence that the UK thought it could help to "break" Mohamed as evidenced by verbatim notes Mohamed took when he was given access to unclassified telegrams from a separate legal action he is fighting in the US courts.

One MI5 memo reads:
"We believe that our knowledge of the UK scene may provide contextual background useful during any continuing interview process. This may enable individual officers to identify any inconsistencies during discussions. This will place the detainee under more direct pressure and would seem to be the most effective way of obtaining intelligence on Mohamed's activities/plans concerning the UK."
That certainly appears to put the UK government as pretty central in any interrogations of Mohamed and certainly not on the side of those who were seeking to ensure his release.

And further damning evidence of the UK's involvement in Mohamed's interrogation comes in the form of a telegram from MI5 to the CIA:

Headed "Request for further detainee questioning", it stated: "This information has been communicated in confidence to the recipient government and shall not be released without the agreement of the British government. We would be grateful if the following can be passed to... Binyam Mohamed."

It went on to ask that his interrogators show him and ask him questions about a "photobook recently sent over". Large portions of the rest of the telegram have been redacted, but it added: "We would be grateful if the following could be put to Binyam Mohamed, in addition to the questioning above. Does Mohamed know [two lines redacted]? What was the man's name? Can Mohamed describe him? Where did they meet? Where was the man from? Who facilitated his travel from the UK? Where did this man go? What were his intentions? We would appreciate the opportunity to pose further questions."

This is simply shameful. It is now blatant that the UK were heavily involved in the questioning of Mohamed, even as we knew that he was being held in a country which facilitated torture.

It is well past the time for Miliband to come clean and release the information which the courts have said should be made public. It looks like Miliband is attempting to hide from the world just exactly how horrendous US and UK policies were under the regimes of Bush and Blair.

It is time to stop protecting them and to shine a bright light on to the areas which they would most want to keep hidden. Only then can we ensure that such disgraceful practices are never again seen as acceptable policy.


Even the Tories appear to be outraged over the fact that the British government were providing questions to torturers rather than attempting to ensure the release of a British resident:

The Conservatives have called for a police inquiry into his allegations of British collusion.

Mr Grieve called for a judicial inquiry into the allegations.

"And if the evidence is sufficient to bring a prosecution then the police ought to investigate it," he added.

And Liberty feel that an investigation is unavoidable now:

Shami Chakrabati, director of campaign group Liberty said: "These are more than allegations - these are pieces of a puzzle that are being put together.

"It makes an immediate criminal investigation absolutely inescapable."

Former Conservative shadow home secretary David Davis accused the government of "stonewalling" by referring the claims to the Attorney General rather than the Director of Public Prosecutions.

"What appears to have happened is they have been turning blind eyes," he added.

Miliband and others are running out of options now. It really is time for them to come clean. But I suspect they won't. They'll obfuscate further until their position is simply untenable. That appears to be what they do.


You can read his entire interview here, but here's a taster:

Kabul's dark prison was just that: a place where inmates spent their days and weeks in total blackness.

Other than during interrogations, which took place away from the cells, the only time the prisoners could see was in the brief moments when the guards used torches when bringing trays of food.

'The toilet in the cell was a bucket. Without light, you either find the bucket or you go on your bed,' Mohamed says.

'There were loudspeakers in the cell, pumping out what felt like about 160 watts, a deafening volume, non-stop, 24 hours a day.

'They played the same CD for a month, The Eminem Show.

'It's got about 20 songs on it and when it was finished it went back to the beginning and started again.

'While that was happening, a lot of the time, for hour after hour, they had me shackled.

'Sometimes it was in a standing position, with my wrists chained to the top of the door frame.

'Sometimes they were chained in the middle, at waist level, and sometimes they were chained at the bottom, on the floor.

'The longest was when they chained me for eight days on end, in a position that meant I couldn't stand straight nor sit.

'I couldn't sleep. I had no idea whether it was day or night.

The this took place when the US sent him Morroco, one can only assume so that this treatment could take place.

'I tried to put on a brave face. But maybe I was going to be raped. Maybe they'd electrocute me. Maybe castrate me.

'They took the scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Maybe an inch. 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 in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming.

'I remember Marwan seemed to smoke half a cigarette, throw it down, 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, Mohamed says, was repeated many times over the next 15 months.

I have always said that I simply want Bush, Cheney et al to be found guilty of war crimes and that I would have no difficulty should Obama decide to pardon them. Reading this, I would be happy to throw them in jail and throw away the key.

Click title for full article.

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