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US Threats Mean Evidence of British Resident's Guantánamo Torture Must Stay Secret, Judges Rule

Tory MP David Davis demands urgent Commons statement on MI5 role in Binyam Mohamed case

by Richard Norton-Taylor

Evidence of how a British resident held in the Guantánamo Bay detention camp was tortured, and what MI5 knew about it, must remain secret because of serious threats the US has made against the UK, the high court ruled today.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton(R) and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband shake hands after speaking to the press at the State Department in Washington. Clinton said Tuesday the US-British special relationship "really stands the test of time."(AFP/Nicholas Kamm) The judges made clear they were deeply unhappy with their decision, but said they had no alternative as a result of a statement by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, that if the evidence was disclosed the US would stop sharing intelligence with Britain. That would directly threaten the UK's national security, Miliband had told the court.

This afternoon David Davis, the Conservative MP and former shadow home secretary, said ministers must urgently respond to the allegations that Britain was complicit in torture. He demanded a Commons statement from the government on the ruling, calling it "a matter of utmost national importance".

Davis said: "The ruling implies that torture has taken place in the [Binyam] Mohamed case, that British agencies may have been complicit, and further, that the United States government has threatened our high court that if it releases this information the US government will withdraw its intelligence cooperation with the United Kingdom.

"The judge rules that there is a strong public interest that this information is put in the public domain even though it is politically embarrassing."

He told the BBC: "The government is going to have to do some pretty careful explaining about what's going on."

The ruling, by Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones, was the latest from a long-running and unprecedented series of court hearings into the abduction of Binyam Mohamed, who was seized and held incommunicado in Pakistan in 2002 before being secretly rendered to Morocco, where he says he was tortured.

He was subsequently flown to Afghanistan before being rendered to Guantánamo Bay.

Today's ruling comes after the judges last year invited the Guardian and other media groups to question earlier claims by Miliband that the disclosure of evidence, originally contained in documents given to him by the US government, would threaten the UK's national security.

 

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