TAKE ACTION:Binyam Mohamed/UK & torture

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Published by group: GroupLondon Guantánamo Campaign

On 1 February, several newspaper reported that Binyam Mohamed, who has been on hunger strike for over a month, is "close to death". Today, a High Court judgment revealed that the US bullied the UK into not disclosing information it has about Binyam's torture in Morocco or it would not share intelligence information any more (please see Reprieve press release below). Take action now...time is running out...it's now or never for Binyam!

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Barney says "bring Binyam back"

Press reports on Sunday 1 February stated that Binyam Mohamed, on hunger strike and being force fed, is "close to death". Yvonne Bradley, a US military lawyer who visited Binyam last month told the Observer that "he is just skin and bones. The real worry is that he comes out in a coffin". http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/feb/01/guantanamo-usa-hunger-striker

Also in the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1133514/British-Guantanamo-inmate-returned-UK-hunger-strike-brings-close-death.html?ITO=1490

Take URGENT ACTION for Binyam: write/email the Foreign Secretary to take IMMEDIATE action to bring Binyam back to the UK - we do not want him back in a body bag or a coffin or his blood on the FCO's hands. Please write to the Foreign Secretary: private.office@fco.gov.uk - maybe send a few short emails.

In a further twist in the tale today, after an expedited judicial review to get the British government to disclose information about Binyam's detention and torture, including his genitals being cut with a scalpel over and over again, in Morocco and Afghanistan, the High Court today, Wednesday 4 February, revealed at the end of the case that they cannot force the FCO to disclose this information as the Americans have threatened their best friends, the UK, that they will not share any more intelligence information if the information gets out and names their security agents. In a previous hearing, the High Court had described Binyam's case. vis-à-vis UK and US intelligence, as "deeply disturbing".

There is NO denial that Binyam was tortured and NO denial that both countries were knowingly complicit, the only questions are who and to what extent?

TAKE ACTION: write to President Obama and ask him to take action to allow this information to be disclosed: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ . The High Court judges ended their judgment by asking Obama to make that information available.

More on this story in the press today:

NB: this isn't the first time the UK has admitted to being complicit in US rendition and torture. Almost exactly a year ago, the UK admitted to allowing two rendition flights refuel on the UK-administered island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The government denied this for years and this is probably just a small part of our involvement. MP Andrew Tyrie filed an application to consider where the UK stands in view of such action under our international obligations under the UN Convention against Torture in the summer of 2008. Today's Guardian newspaper also runs a story about M15 involvement in Pakistan.

Also note that President Obama did not outlaw the use of torture and extraordinary rendition in his executive order to close down Guantánamo Bay.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/04/guantanamo-torture

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7870049.stm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/senior-judges-attack-us-refusal-to-disclose-evidence-1545777.html

Reprieve Press Release:


British court asks that President Obama
reconsider his predecessor's repeated "threats"
levelled against the judges who considered allowing
the public to learn the details of American torture of Binyam Mohamed


In an extraordinary ruling, two British judges sitting on the case of Binyam Mohamed have revealed how the US government has "threatened" the British government with reprisals should the British reveal evidence that American agents were involved in his rendition and torture. The judges end the decision with a plea to President Obama to reconsider President Bush's remarkable policy of retribution against anyone who might reveal American crimes:

If the information in the redacted paragraphs which we consider so important to the rule of law, free speech and democratic accountability is to be put into the public domain, it must now be for the United States Government to consider changing its position or itself putting that information into the public domain.

Mohamed v. Secretary of State, at ¶107.

No fewer than eight times, the judges refer to the American "threat" made against their closest ally, the British. Mohamed v. Secretary of State, at ¶¶62, 70, 73, 76, 76, 76, 77, 107). The British intelligence services have 42 documents that apparently demonstrate abuse of Binyam Mohamed a British resident.

"The US is under a legal duty to investigate the crime of torture, not to suppress evidence that it happened," said Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith. "And the UK has a similar duty. For the Foreign Secretary to give in to these illegal demands by the Bush Administration is capitulation to blackmail, pure and simple. It is hardly Britain's finest hour. As the judge's say, it is up to President Obama to put his money where his mouth is. He must repudiate his predecessor's reprehensible policy."

Mr. Mohamed is a victim of "extraordinary rendition" and torture. He was initially held illegally in Pakistan for four months, which is where a British intelligence agent interrogated him under circumstances later found to be illegal by the British court. He was rendered to Morocco by the CIA on July 21, 2002, where he was tortured for 18 months, with the British government supplying information and questions used by the Moroccan torturers. On January 21, 2004, he was rendered a second time, to the secret "Dark Prison" in Afghanistan, where his torture continued. Since September 2004, he has been held in Guantánamo Bay. He has never been tried for any crime.

"Binyam was tortured horribly in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan and it is clear from this case that the British security services were complicit in that torture," said Clare Algar, the Executive Director of Reprieve.

"Today's judgment notes the British Government has a duty to investigate and possibly prosecute the perpetrators. Unfortunately, it seems that this might be the only way of exposing the shadowy facts about kidnap and torture which the US continues to hide beneath the false front of national security."

Reprieve lawyer Cori Crider added: "Secretive and lawless to the last, one of the final acts of the Bush administration was to try to bully its closest ally into sweeping Binyam Mohamed's torture under the rug. This is repugnant to the principles of open justice on which both our societies were founded."

"On Day One of his administration, President Obama declared his government would "operate under principles of openness, transparency and of engaging citizens with their government". If this does not apply in the case of Mr. Mohamed's torture, where does it apply?"


For further information, please contact Clive Stafford Smith (07940 347125; clivess@mac.com); or Katherine O'Shea at Reprieve's Press Office on 020 7427 1099.

 

Email Contact email: london.gtmo[at]googlemail.com

Additions

Press Release: APPG on extraordinary rendition


All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition
House of Commons


Press release: Immediate, Wednesday 4 February 2009

The High Court ruled today that in the face of threats over future intelligence cooperation from the United States Government, it could not publish details of the torture of British resident Binyam Mohamed, who was rendered to Morocco, Afghanistan, and then to Guantanamo Bay, where he remains.

Andrew Tyrie MP said: “There is much that needs to be digested in this extraordinary judgment.”

“I am deeply concerned that the UK Government appears so easily to have rolled over in the face of apparent US pressure.”

“I would also be extremely concerned if President Obama’s Administration were to persist with its predecessor’s constant attempts to prevent the truth coming out about extraordinary rendition.”

“I will be writing to the Foreign Secretary to establish whether the Obama Administration (as the judgment suggests at paragraph 78) renewed its predecessor’s pressure on the UK Government to withhold these paragraphs.”

Ends.


Notes to Editors:

Binyam Mohamed was detained by US authorities in Pakistan, and subsequently rendered to Morocco, Afghanistan, and then Guantanamo Bay. He alleges that he was brutally tortured with a scalpel during his time in detention.

On 4 February 2009 the High Court published its latest judgment in this case, considering the issue of whether or not to publish a short summary on the treatment of Binyam Mohamed that has, until this point, been kept secret. It decided against publishing these paragraphs. Key sections of the judgment are set out here:

62. The Foreign Secretary’s certificates, particularly the certificate of 5 September 2008, make clear that the United States Government’s position is that, if the redacted paragraphs are made public, then the United States Government will re-evaluate its intelligence sharing relationship with the United Kingdom with the real risk that it would reduce the intelligence provided. It was and remains (so far as we are aware) the judgement of the Foreign Secretary that the United States Government might carry that threat out and this would seriously prejudice the national security of the United Kingdom.

78. It was submitted to us by Mr David Rose that the situation had changed significantly following the election of President Obama who was avowedly determined to eschew torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and to close Guantanamo Bay. We have, however, been informed by counsel for the Foreign Secretary that the position has not changed.

88. It is now clear that the 42 documents disclosed as a result of these proceedings were not made available to the ISC. The evidence was that earlier searches made had not discovered them. The ISC Report could not have been made in such terms if the 42 documents had been made available to it. However, as a result of these proceedings, the 42 documents have since been supplied to the ISC along with our closed judgment and the transcript of Witness B’s open and closed evidence.

107. How is this judgement of the Foreign Secretary in relation to the public interest in national security to be balanced against the public interest in open justice as safeguarding the rule of law, free speech and democratic accountability? In our judgement the decisive factors are the other means which have resulted from these proceedings for safeguarding democratic accountability and the rule of law (the reference of the matter to the ISC and the Attorney General) and what has already been placed into the public domain which can engender debate. In the circumstances now prevailing, the balance is served by maintaining the redaction of the paragraphs from our first judgment. In short, whatever views may be held as to the continuing threat made by the Government of the United States to prevent a short summary of the treatment of BM being put into the public domain by this court, it would not, in all the circumstances we have set out and in the light of the action taken, be in the public interest to expose the United Kingdom to what the Foreign Secretary still considers to be the real risk of the loss of intelligence so vital to the safety of our day to day life. If the information in the redacted paragraphs which we consider so important to the rule of law, free speech and democratic accountability is to be put into the public domain, it must now be for the United States Government to consider changing its position or itself putting that information into the public domain.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Andrew Tyrie is Conservative MP for Chichester and Chairman and founder of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition. Mr Tyrie can be contacted on 0207 219 6371. His office email is bennetter@parliament.uk. The website of the All Party Group is www.extraordinaryrendition.org.

Obama: Release Binyam, Stop Torture Cover-Up - Demo tonight (Friday 6 Feb) 6-7pm, US embassy

Please join the London Guantánamo Campaign TONIGHT, Friday, 6 February, 6-7pm, outside the US embassy, Grosvenor Square, W1A 1AE (nearest tube: Bond Street / Marble Arch).

For urgent letter-writing actions (takes 5 minutes), see: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/02/421222.html

US torture and British complicity in it has been in the headlines this week, along with government cover-ups on both sides of the Atlantic, in light of the urgent case of former London resident and current Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed.

It has been widely reported in the media this week that the US administration made threats to the British Foreign Office that it may refuse to share intelligence in future if documents revealing US involvement in torture are released into the public domain, and that this position has not changed under Obama.

The case - in the High Court again this week - relates to former British resident and Ethiopian national Binyam Mohamed, who was picked up in Pakistan in 2002, rendered to Morocco and Afghanistan’s infamous “Dark Prison”, where it is claimed he was interrogated and horribly tortured and mistreated for two years by or on behalf of the American CIA, apparently with the knowledge and complicity of British intelligence and possibly the British Government, before being transferred to the US military prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he has remained ever since. Binyam has been on his latest hunger strike for over a month and his military lawyer reports that he is close to starvation.

It is time for President Obama to make a clean break with the heinous practices and deceit characterising the neo-conservative Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld regime. It is time for Obama to put his money where his mouth is and stop assisting in the cover up of US involvement in torture on behalf of his predecessors, who should be handed over to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes.

The London Guantánamo Campaign this week marks the second anniversary of its regular presence outside the US embassy, where it has been calling for an end to US involvement in torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention without charge or trial and other human rights abuses committed in the name of the so-called "War on Terror". We invite you to join us this Friday for our monthly demonstration at this most crucial time for Binyam and our campaign.

Please join us on Friday, 6 February, 6-7pm , US embassy, Grosvenor Square, W1A 1AE (nearest tube: Bond Street / Marble Arch).

For further information on Binyam’s case, including urgent letter-writing actions you can take (takes 5 minutes) see: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/02/421222.html

London Guantánamo Campaign
http://london.indymedia.org.uk/groups/london-guantanamo-campaign