Former U.S. Detainee Alleges British Complicity in Torture
Monday, March 9, 2009
LONDON, March 8 -- Opposition lawmakers on Sunday called for a judicial inquiry into allegations that British intelligence agents participated in the "extraordinary rendition" and torture of a British resident who was held in U.S. custody at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and other locations for nearly seven years.
The allegations were made by Binyam Mohamed, 30, in a newspaper interview published Sunday in which he told his story publicly for the first time. Mohamed, who was released without charges last month, said the British government actively cooperated with U.S. officials in his rendition and torture despite its repeated denials.
Mohamed told the Mail on Sunday newspaper that during 18 months of CIA-controlled captivity in Morocco, when his captors repeatedly sliced his chest and genitals with a scalpel, interrogators questioned him about photos and information contained in British intelligence files they showed to him.
Mohamed also supplied the newspaper with details of two telegrams, which he obtained through a U.S. lawsuit filed by his lawyers, allegedly sent from British intelligence officials to the CIA proposing questions that should be asked of Mohamed.
Two members of Parliament -- Dominic Grieve, a Conservative Party spokesman on justice issues, and Edward Davey, spokesman for the Liberal Democrats -- called for a judicial inquiry.
Mohamed is the first Guantanamo detainee released during the Obama administration. He was originally charged with plotting a radioactive "dirty bomb" attack against the United States. But last year, U.S. officials dropped all charges against him. His case has become a focus of international anger at U.S. practices in the "war on terror."
U.S. and British officials have denied using or participating in torture.
"We abhor torture and never order it or condone it," the Foreign Office said in a statement, noting that the matter has been referred to the attorney general for investigation.
U.S. officials have never acknowledged taking Mohamed to Morocco; Moroccan officials deny having held him.
In the interview, Mohamed said that he was born in Ethiopia and that his father was an executive with the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines. When he was 14, his family was forced to flee because of political upheaval, and they ended up in a suburb of Washington.
Mohamed did not say exactly where he lived, but he said he was the victim of racist bullying at school. "I didn't like the U.S. at all," he said. "It just didn't feel right for me there, and I wanted to get out."
Clive Stafford Smith, Mohamed's lawyer, said that Mohamed's sister lives in Northern Virginia and that his brother is a physician in Minnesota.