Foreign Office ‘asked for American torture letter’

By staff

The Foreign Office requested the letter from the American government threatening to halt intelligence cooperation if a ruling on a torture case became public, it has been revealed.

The revelation comes after the British political establishment was rocked by a statement from judges presiding over the case of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who alleges he was tortured in Guantanamo bay with the collusion of UK intelligence services.

The judges said the Foreign Office counsel had told them they could not make the full summary public, because the Americans had threatened to remove intelligence cooperation if the information were released into the public domain.

“Far from being a threat, it was solicited [by the Foreign Office],” a senior Bush administration State department official said.

“The Foreign Office asked for it in writing. They said: ‘Give us something in writing so that we can put it on the record. If you give us a letter explaining this, then we can provide it to the court.'”

The Foreign Office confirmed that report was true but argued it was “sensible and proper” that the American position was put in writing to the court.

Downing Street rallied around the foreign secretary today, with the prime minister’s spokesman saying: “The Foreign Office has made clear that they asked the US to set out their position in writing for us and the court.”

Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve – which acts for Mr Mohamed – said: “With each twist and turn, it becomes obvious that the US and UK have to release this information.”

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Edward Davey said: “This could represent one of the most outrageous deceptions of parliament, the judiciary and the British people.

“There must be an immediate investigation, with all related correspondence made public.

“The foreign secretary must not block publication this time.”
Foreign Office officials are currently in the US-run detention centre in Cuba to assess Mr Mohamed’s health, following a hunger strike.

A spokesman said: “There are no immediate medical concerns that would prevent him from travelling to the UK, should the United States government agree to the UK’s request for release and return.

“We hope this brings Mr Mohamed’s release and return to the UK one step closer.”

Protestors will gather outside the American embassy tomorrow to call on the American government to release Mr Mohamed into British custody immediately.