For Immediate Release
U.K. Government Must Provide Information About Rendition, Disappearance and Torture, Urges Amnesty International
WASHINGTON - Amnesty International today
called on the government of the U.K. to give the lawyers for Binyam Mohamed,
a former U.K. resident imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, information which
it holds and which might help him to show that he has been a victim of
torture and other ill-treatment in the U.S.-led program of renditions and
"Providing this information would be
a first step towards accountability for the U.K.'s involvement in the U.S.
program of rendition and secret detention, as well as in the torture and
other ill-treatment of terrorist suspects," said Halya Gowan, a spokesperson
on Europe at Amnesty International.
Binyam Mohamed was arrested at Karachi airport
in April 2002 and transferred to U.S. custody three months later. In July
2002, he was transferred on a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-registered
plane to Morocco, where he was held for about 18 months. There, Binyam
Mohamed reports he was tortured, including having his penis cut by a razor
blade. He was allegedly subjected to further torture after his further
rendition to the "dark prison" in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January
2004. After five months, he was transferred to the U.S. airbase in Bagram,
and suffered further alleged ill-treatment there. Binyam was transferred
in mid-September 2004 to Guantanamo where he has remained ever since.
"Statements that Binyam Mohamed made
in the course of his unlawful detention will form the basis of charges
against him if he is tried before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay
- a trial which would be unfair, and could involve charges which could
be punishable by death. Any information the U.K. authorities have which
relates to violations of his human rights or could affect Binyam Mohamed's
defense should be disclosed to his lawyers without any further delay,"
Following last week's ruling by the High
Court of England and Wales, that the United Kingdom has a duty to disclose
this information to lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, today the High Court postponed
its decision on an application made by the U.K. Foreign Secretary to be
allowed to withhold this information. The Foreign Secretary claimed that
its disclosure would damage the U.K.'s intelligence-sharing arrangements
with the United States, and thus threaten the United Kingdom's national
security. The Foreign Secretary has been given another week to provide
the court with a fuller explanation for continuing to withhold this information.
Binyam Mohamed's lawyers need the information
now, before a decision is taken about whether he should be tried by a military
commission in the United States. It is essential to their claim that the
information on which the charges against him are based was improperly obtained.
Recent revelations of secret detainee transfers
through Diego Garcia, and around the Untied Kingdom's involvement in the
rendition and secret detention of U.K .residents Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil
el-Banna, show that the United Kingdom can no longer hide its involvement
in these human rights violations.
"Secrecy with the excuse of protecting
diplomatic relations can no longer be used to justify the failure to investigate
the involvement of U.K. agents in human rights violations," Gowan
Amnesty International calls on the U.K. authorities
to immediately instigate a genuinely independent and impartial public inquiry
into all allegations of U.K. involvement in the renditions program.
Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, claims
that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in Pakistan, Morocco,
Afghanistan and Guantanamo. The detainee claims that statements he made--which,
as the High Court affirmed, will form the basis of evidence against him
if he is tried by a military commission -were the products of his unlawful
detention, torture and ill-treatment.
In August 2007, after a sustained campaign
by human rights activists and lawyers in the United Kingdom, the U.K. government
requested the release from Guantanamo Bay a number of former U.K. residents,
including Binyam Mohamed. Although three men were returned in December
2007, the U.S. authorities refused the request for the release and return
of Binyam Mohamed. The U.K. authorities say that they are continuing to
request the release and return of Binyam Mohamed.
The U.K. government has disclosed the information
that it holds about Binyam Mohamed to the U.S. authorities; and the U.S.
authorities have given the U.K. a promise that this information will be
given to Binyam Mohamed's military lawyer in the event that his case should
be sent for trial before a military commission. But to date neither the
United Kingdom nor the United States has disclosed that information--relevant
to the rendition of Binyam Mohamed and his subsequent treatment in detention--to
Amnesty International believes that the military
commission procedures at Guantanamo Bay are fundamentally unfair, and has
called for the military commission system to be abandoned, and for all
those still held at Guantanamo Bay to be released or given a genuinely
fair trial before federal civilian courts without delay.
For more information, please visit Amnesty
International's website at www.amnestyusa.org
or contact the AIUSA media office.