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Binyam Mohamed: Criminal investigation welcome but 'long overdue'

Amnesty International has described a move by the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to ask the Attorney General to investigate possible "criminal wrongdoing" by UK and US intelligence agencies in the case of UK resident Binyam Mohamed as welcome but “long overdue".

Amnesty International UK Guantánamo campaigner Sara MacNeice said:

“It has long been obvious that investigations conducted to date have failed to get to the bottom of allegations that British officials may have colluded in the unlawful detention, interrogation, ‘rendition’ and even torture of Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident, and have failed to address fully other credible allegations of British involvement in the programme of rendition and secret detention.

"What has come out in the High Court in the last month or so begins to show the true extent of the UK's involvement in Binyam's case: the UK knew that he was being denied access to a lawyer, but they still sent a UK agent to question him. What's more, even after he had been transferred out of Pakistan, and was being detained in a secret location - now believed to be in Morocco - the UK continued to ask the US to put questions to him on their behalf, and carried on sending information to the US for use in his interrogation. It is no wonder that the High Court judges described the case as 'deeply disturbing'.

"Complicity or participation in torture is a crime, under both British and international law. It is only right that possible criminal wrongdoing should be investigated. It is vital that no information should be held back from the investigation on any 'national security' grounds, and that, if the results of the investigation are not to be publicly revealed through prosecution of the case, the findings and their basis should be made public by other means.

“It has to be said that this has all taken an unacceptably long time. Meanwhile Binyam Mohamed continues to be detained in deplorable conditions at Guantánamo Bay.

“Ultimately it remains the case that Binyam will not receive a full and fair trial under the military commissions in operation at Guantánamo. We want these abandoned and Binyam - and all prisoners - to be allowed proper, fair trials or to be safely released as a matter of priority. The UK should step up its efforts to have Binyam released and returned to the UK.”

Binyam Mohamed was arrested at Karachi airport in April 2002 and handed over to US officials three months later. In July 2002, he was transferred on a CIA-registered plane to Morocco, where he was held for some 18 months and allegedly tortured, including by having his penis cut by a razor blade.

He was allegedly subjected to further torture after rendition to the "dark prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2004. After five months, he was transferred to the US airbase in Bagram, and allegedly suffered further alleged ill-treatment there, before being transferred in September 2004 to Guantánamo, where he has remained since.

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