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Monday, May 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Britain Releases Info on Abuse of Gitmo Prisoner

(CN) - Acting under court order, the British Foreign Office today released a highly edited summary of secret information provided by U.S. intelligence officials on what the Foreign Office called the "cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment" of a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner.

Britain fought a long court battle to try to keep the information about Binyan Mohamed secret for fear of damaging relations with the United States.

Mohamed, 31, moved to England as a teenager and was arrested in Pakistan after Sept. 11, 2001.

Here is the summary posted on the Foreign Office Web site:

"The following seven paragraphs have been redacted:

"[It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

"v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

"vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and "disappearing" were played upon.

"vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews.

"viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

"ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

"x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities]"

In a statement to the House of Commons, Foreign Secretary David Miliband emphasized that the British government hadn't been concerned about disclosing the paragraphs' contents -- a notion it allegedly "supported and secured" -- "but the principle of their disclosure by an English court against U.S. wishes."

"[I]n this case it was U.S. intelligence and an English court. But it could just as easily be British intelligence in a foreign court," Miliband said.

He noted that the seven paragraphs "do not contain information on Mr. Mohamed's most serious claims of mistreatment -- notably in respect of alleged genital mutilation -- during his detention until his release from Guantanamo last year. We, the United Kingdom, have no information to corroborate those allegations."

Miliband said the matter will be addressed in Mohamed's civil claim for damages.

"Mr. Speaker, we have fought this case, and brought the appeal, to defend a principle we believe is fundamental to our national security -- that intelligence shared with us will be protected by us," he said. "No one likes to lose a case. But the force of this judgment is that it firmly recognizes that principle and it, and that in doing so the court is fulfilling its vital constitutional role, protecting this country and upholding the law."

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