The government has lost its legal battle to suppress evidence that it was aware of MI5’s complicity in the torture of Binyam Mohamed.
The Court of Appeal today ruled that evidence on what UK intelligence agents knew of Mohamed’s treatment under detention should be released.
The judges ruled that the information that the government sought to keep out of the public domain "vindicate Mr Mohamed's assertion that UK authorities had been involved in and facilitated the ill- treatment and torture to which he was subjected while under the control of USA authorities".
The judgment states:
"We regret to have to include that the reports provided to the Security Service 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.
"The treatment reported, if it had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom would clearly have been in breach of [a ban on torture].
"Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could be readily contented to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of BM by the United States authorities."
The contested paragraphs have now been placed on the FCO website where you can read them in redacted form.
The Guardian reports on the government’s last minute bid to delete the most damning paragraph (168) from the judges' ruling that refers to MI5's 'culture' of suppressing evidence. A letter which reveals some of the details of the original draft ruling, before it was watered down, has been published by the Guardian.
According to the paper, Jonathan Sumption QC ‘wrote to the court warning that the paragraph in question was "likely to receive more public attention than any other parts of the judgments".
‘This, Sumption pointed out, was because the paragraph would state that MI5 did not operate in a culture that respected human rights or renounced "coercive interrogation techniques".’
‘The letter also reveals that the judgment, before being rewritten, said this was particularly true of the MI5 officer known as Witness B who gave evidence in the case – and that this man's conduct was characteristic of MI5 as a whole.
‘Furthermore, the letter shows, the judges originally ruled that MI5 officers had "deliberately misled" the Intelligence and Security Committee, the body of MPs and peers supposed to oversee its work, on the question of coercive interrogations, and that this "culture of suppression" reflected its dealings with the committee, the foreign secretary and the court.
‘Finally, the letter makes clear that the court ruled MI5's culture of suppression "penetrates the service to such a degree" that it undermines any government assurance based upon information that comes from MI5 itself.’
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