Fresh allegations of British complicity in the torture of a British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay emerged over the weekend. The allegations come from Shaker Aamer, the last remaining British prisoner in Guantanamo Bay. Held for ten years without charge, Aamer claims that an MI5 officer was present when he was assaulted by interrogators. Aamer is accused by American authorities of being a member of Al Qaeda. He denies this, and, in addition, he has never been charged with any offence and has been cleared by the US for release.
From the Mail on Sunday:
“Detectives are to fly out to Guantanamo Bay to interview a British man over new torture claims against MI5.
“Scotland Yard has asked the US authorities for permission to visit the 43-year-old British detainee who alleges that an MI5 officer was present when he was badly assaulted by a team of interrogators.
“His allegations are the most serious to be levelled at the Security Service and include claims that a British interrogator was present when Mr Aamer’s head was repeatedly banged against a wall.
“Previous cases against MI5 and MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, have only included allegations that British officers sent intelligence to their US counterparts to assist in the interrogation of UK suspects held in unlawful detention.
“Mr Aamer has told his lawyer that during his alleged torture at an American detention camp in Afghanistan, a man with a British accent introduced himself as ‘John’ and said he was from MI5.
“The detailed allegations are set out in a letter sent to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe. Mr Aamer says: ‘Once, after a few days of sleep deprivation, they took me to the interrogation room and the intelligence team started coming, one after another, and the room was full, up to ten or more.
“One of them, a British MI5 agent, was standing and they started talking to me in different languages – English, French, Arabic – and shouting.’
“He claims there was a second interview with a ‘uniformed’ MI5 officer who spoke with an English accent and wore a red beret and a uniform.
“Mr Aamer alleges that a third MI5 officer, who also called himself ‘John’, visited him in Guantanamo after he was transferred there in February 2002.”
The article highlights that, “Despite an announcement by President Obama three years ago that the camp would close by January 2010, there is no sign that this source of US-UK friction is ever going to be removed.
“At the end of last year, he signed the Defense Authorization Act, a new law that effectively makes Guantanamo permanent, and for the first time allows not only foreigners but also American citizens to be detained without trial there indefinitely.
“It also makes it much harder for any of the remaining 171 prisoners, Mr Aamer included, ever to be released. Under its terms, before freeing a Guantanamo prisoner, the US defence secretary must personally certify that he will commit no future terrorist crime.
“None of the nine British citizens and eight UK residents released from Guantanamo to date has been arrested or charged with a terrorist offence”.
Aamer’s Lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith comments that “America is still deploying an arbitrary approach to justice that the rest of the civilised world stopped using in the 18th Century”.
Last week it was announced that an inquiry is to be launched in to the alleged complicity of British security services in the rendition and torture of two Libyan rebel leaders, Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi. However it was also stated that no one would be charged for the allegations of complicity in the torture of the former British detainee at Guantanamo, Binyam Mohamed.
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