Britain ‘covering up American torture’

By politics.co.uk staff

The UK government has been accused of using issues of national security as a smokescreen to cover up torture of a British resident by American agents.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national with British residency, has been in Guantanamo Bay for five years, prior to which he claims he was rendered and repeatedly tortured over a period of three years.

It emerged yesterday that the government may have been complicit in the torture or Mr Mohamed when it agreed to withhold certain documents at the request of the US security services.

“Frankly it’s shocking that David Miliband is basically arguing that torture should be covered up,” said Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen.

Mr Miliband told MPs that Britain had a longstanding policy of never condoning, authorising or cooperating on the use of torture, but he – like foreign secretaries before him – is unable to explicitly state that Mr Mohamed was not tortured.

In parliament Mr Miliband said the intelligence services committee and the attorney general were investigating allegations of torture made by Mr Mohamed.

But Ms Allen added: “It’s not enough to pass this matter to a semi-secret committee or the attorney general, instead we need a proper independent public inquiry into Binyam’s case and the wider practice of rendition and secret detention.

“The government constantly says it opposes torture in all instances but then when it discovers it’s taken place – possibly with the connivance of UK intelligence officials – the government appears to go into cover-up mode.

“There is a strong public interest in knowing what both UK and US agents are doing in our name, especially when it involves the secret detention and alleged torture of a UK resident.

“The foreign secretary should now change tack and allow information about Binyam Mohamed’s treatment and UK involvement come to light.”

In the Commons, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey accused Mr Miliband of personally standing in the way of justice.

But the foreign secretary said the MP was suffering from “fundamental confusion” between what amounted to justice, which he said amounted to Mr Mohamed’s legal team being given full access to the 42 documents that yesterday two judges said be in the public domain.

The two unnamed judges implied the decision to withhold the evidence was ‘politically motivated’.