Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MI5 faces fresh torture allegations.

I spoke yesterday about the British government's possible collusion in the torture of Binyam Mohamed, and now today comes a fresh allegation that MI5 colluded in the torture of a British former civil servant in Bangladesh. Only this time the man is prepared to bring charges against Jacqui Smith.

Lawyers for the British man, Jamil Rahman, are to file a damages claim alleging that Smith was complicit in assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and breaches of human rights legislation over his alleged ill-treatment while detained in Bangladesh.

The claims bring to three the number of countries in which British intelligence agents have been accused of colluding in the torture of UK nationals. Rahman says that he was the victim of repeated beatings over a period of more than two years at the hands of Bangladeshi intelligence officers, and he claims that a pair of MI5 officers were blatantly involved in his ordeal.

The two men would leave the room where he was being interrogated whenever he refused to answer their questions, he says, and he would be severely beaten. They would then return to the room to resume the interrogation.

On occasion, he adds, his wife would be held in a nearby cell, and his torturers would threaten to rape her if he did not cooperate. Rahman's lawyers say that there is a wealth of evidence to support his allegations, including eyewitness testimony and medical evidence. Rahman was also able to provide his lawyers with the number of a mobile telephone that he says was used by one of the MI5 officers and a number for MI5 in London.

It's hard not to conclude that a change has taken place in the British policy during the war on terror and that, to some extent, a decision has been made to turn a blind eye to rough stuff and that somewhere along the line we have embraced Cheney's move to the dark side.

Gordon Brown is promising to review the policy, but he - and/or Blair - needs to answer as to why the policy was ever changed in the first place. When did it become acceptable for British intelligence officers to turn a blind eye to abuse? Who ordered the change?

The opposition are up in arms demanding that an inquiry take place:
Among those demanding an inquiry are opposition leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg; Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions; Lord Carlile of Berriew, the government's independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation; Lord Howe, foreign secretary in the Thatcher government, and Lord Guthrie, former chief of defence staff.
There is, of course, a third incident where the UK are alleged to have colluded in torture, as we shouldn't forget the case of Rangzieb Ahmed who was tortured in Pakistan with what Human Rights Watch called, "widespread complicity" between the Pakistan intelligence services, ISI, and the British intelligence services, MI5.

Human Rights Watch detected a "systemic" modus operandi among British security services to collude in torture and, with this latest allegation, it becomes ever harder to ignore the facts as they start to pile up.

We are just outside the room too many times - as people inside the rooms are being tortured - for us to ever make the case that we don't know what is going on.

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