'I am not asking for vengeance; only that the truth should be made known, so that nobody in the future should have to endure what I have endured'
In 2002 former British resident Binyam Mohamed was handed over to US custody by Pakistan. He was put on a CIA plane and secretly transferred to Morocco where he would be detained for 18 months. During this time, his captors repeatedly slashed his penis and chest with a razorblade.
In January 2004 he was transferred to the CIA-run ‘dark prison’ in Kabul in Afghanistan, where he says he was tortured for prolonged periods of time, including being hung upside down, being chained up, and being exposed to non-stop deafeningly loud music.
On 19 September 2004 he was taken to Guantánamo Bay where he was held in solitary confinement. In 2008 he was put forward for trial by an unfair military commission, but later that year the US dropped all charges against Binyam amid wide debate about allegations of UK complicity in his torture. He was finally released in February 2009. Read Binyam’s statement
Your ‘fan mail’
Throughout Binyam’s detention at Guantánamo Bay thousands of you took action calling on the US authorities to immediately release him and other prisoners unless they were properly charged and given a fair trial. Many of you also sent them messages of support directly.
Just before his release, Binyam's US military lawyer confirmed that for nearly a year camp guards had failed to pass on any correspondence.
In what his lawyer says is just one example of a battery of 'psychological abuse', the guards denied him what they referred to as his 'fan mail' – your messages and cards.
In late 2009, a US District Court judge confirmed evidence that Binyam was tortured, and suffered a variety of other human rights abuses. In a statement he said:
‘Binyam Mohamed’s trauma lasted for two long years. During that time, he was physically and psychologically tortured.’
He continued: ‘His genitals were mutilated. He was deprived of sleep and food. He was summarily transported from one foreign prison to another. Captors held him in stress positions for days at a time. He was forced to listen to piercingly loud music and the screams of other prisoners while locked in a pitch-black cell.’
‘All the while, he was forced to inculpate himself and others in various plots to imperil Americans. The Government does not dispute this evidence’
The British government also held documents that proved Binyam’s torture, and confirmed that the security service MI5 had known about it. Despite ongoing calls for David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary, to make them public, the government refused citing ‘national security’ reasons.
But in February 2010, a year after Binyam’s release, the Court of Appeal ordered the government to make the torture evidence public
The Detainee Inquiry
Binyam is not the only British resident who says that the UK was complicit in their torture while being held abroad in counter-terrorism operations. In July 2010, as allegations grew, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he had commissioned The Detainee Inquiry, chaired by Sir Peter Gibson.
This was meant to be an independent investigation into the UK's alleged involvement in this mistreatment. However, when the procedures for the Inquiry were announced we were extremely disappointed: they fell far short of international standards for proper investigations and the UK's international human rights obligations to fully and independently investigate these serious allegations.
By January 2012 the Inquiry had been closed without completing its duties. To this day, we are still waiting for the UK to come clean about torture and provide justice to victims like Binyam.