Judges say Britain bows to US blackmailing over torture case

Two senior British judges said US blackmailed Britain into covering up the torture of an Ethiopian man at Guantanamo prison.

Judges say Britain bows to US blackmailing over torture case

Two senior British judges accused the United States on Wednesday of blackmailing Britain into covering up the torture of an Ethiopian man at Guantanamo prison.

Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones said they had been told that America had threatened to stop cooperating with Britain on intelligence matters if evidence were published saying that Binyam Mohammed, a British resident held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, had been "tortured into confessing crimes".

In a withering ruling that condemned America for a lack of principles, the judges said: "We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials . . . relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be.

"We had no reason . . . to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would reconsider its intelligence-sharing relationship, when all the considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing a limited but important summary of the reports."

According to the ruling from High Court judges Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Lloyd Jones, Miliband's lawyers said the threat had existed for some time and was still in place under President Barack Obama's administration.

British media had applied to the court for the release of full details of the evidence the British government held about the torture of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident who is held in Guantanamo Bay.

The ruling concerns the case of Mohammed, an Ethiopian national who came to Britain as a teenage refugee, who US agents kidnapped in Pakistan in 2002 before being secretly flown to Morocco and is now in the US camp at Guantanamo Bay since September 2004.

In October, the Pentagon official overseeing the Guantanamo war crimes court dismissed all charges against Mohamed, who says he was forced to some confessions while being tortured in a Moroccan prison.

The judges' ruling said: "We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials ... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be."

"We had no reason ... to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States government that it would reconsider its intelligence sharing relationship," it added.

A legal charity which represents Mohamed called on the British and U.S. authorities to investigate the allegations.

Speaking in parliament, opposition Conservative politician David Davis called for the government to make a statement about the issue.

He said: "The ruling implies that torture has taken place in the Mohamed case, that British agencies may have been complicit and, further, that the United States government has threatened our High Courts if it releases this information "The judge rules that there is a strong public interest that this information is put in the public domain even though it is politically embarrassing."

Mohamed has been on hunger strike since Jan. 5 to protest at his continued confinement, one of his U.S. military lawyers, Air Force Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley, said.

Amnesty International called for an inquiry into the affair and demanded Mohamed's release from Guantanamo Bay.

British foreign secretary David Miliband later denied the reports and said that Britain "never condoned or authorised the use of torture."

He added: "There has been no threat from the United States to quote-unquote break off intelligence cooperation."

A spokesman for the US Department of State said: "The US thanks the UK Government for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information and preserve the long standing intelligence-sharing relationship."

Last August the same two judges ruled MI5 had participated in the unlawful interrogation of Mohamed and said the UK had a duty to disclose what it knew about his treatment. The information, described as a "short summary" of Mohamed's treatment by the US, was supplied to the court on the condition that it not be released publicly.


Agencies

Last Mod: 05 Şubat 2009, 14:48
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