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16 Dec

Torture in Afghanistan: UK Court Orders Release of Evidence

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Wednesday 16 December 2009

by: Andy Worthington, t r u t h o u t | Report

Full Article

Reprieve, the legal action charity, the lawyers of which represent dozens of prisoners still held at Guantánamo, won a court victory in the case of the British resident Shaker Aamer, which appears to draw on the organization’s success in securing a judicial review in the case of another of their clients, Binyam Mohamed. Initiated in May 2008, this led, eventually, to a fast-track review of Mohamed’s case by the Obama administration, and his return to the UK in February of this year.

The key to the pressure exerted by Reprieve is torture and, specifically, what the British government knew about the torture of both men while in US custody. Mohamed’s case is well-known, as he was rendered to Morocco by the CIA in July 2002, three months after his capture in Pakistan, where he was reportedly subjected to torture for 18 months.

These claims, however, are not at the heart of Mohamed’s torture story as it relates to the British government. Instead, the High Court judges in his case – Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Lloyd Jones – focused on 42 documents in the possession of the British government, which, apparently, explain what, in May 2002, the CIA told their British counterparts about how they had treated Mohamed while he was being held in Pakistani custody, shortly before a British agent flew out to interrogate him.

For 16 months, the British government has refused to allow the judges to release a seven paragraph, 25-line summary of these documents, written by the judges themselves, on the basis that revealing the information would threaten the intelligence-sharing arrangement between the US and the UK.

The government’s claims about this “threat” to the intelligence-sharing relationship have been maintained despite the judges’ insistence (in a recent ruling comparing Mohamed’s treatment with that of Abu Zubaydah, the CIA’s most notorious torture victim) that the description of the treatment of Mohamed in Pakistan, which is contained in their summary, “could never properly be described as ‘a secret’ or an ‘intelligence secret’ or ‘a summary of classified intelligence.'” ** ***********************************************************

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