Investigate Crimes Committed Against Binyam Mohamed

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‘Reprieve’ investigator CHRIS CHANG (speaking) with ex-Guantánamo prisoner BISHER EL-RAWI
‘Reprieve’ investigator CHRIS CHANG (speaking) with ex-Guantánamo prisoner BISHER EL-RAWI

Legal charity Reprieve has released its report, ‘Human Cargo’, which details the rendition and torture of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident in Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve is calling for a full and open US congressional investigation into the crimes that have been committed against Mohamed.

The charity is demanding that the US authorities turn over all evidence of Mohamed’s torture in Morocco, Afghanistan and Guantánamo to his lawyers, including photos of his injuries, interrogation logs and any other relevant material.

Reprieve also calls on the British authorities to turn over all information in their files about UK involvement in rendition and torture of Mohamed, and calls for a full and public enquiry into British collusion in Mohamed’s rendition and torture.

The report’s introduction says: ‘Binyam Mohamed was born on 24 July, 1978, in Ethiopia, and came to the UK on 9 March 1994, seeking political asylum.

‘Binyam travelled to Pakistan and then Afghanistan in June 2001 primarily because he wanted to escape a social circle in London that had led him into drug addiction.

‘With Afghanistan in chaos after 9/11, Binyam left for Pakistan.

‘The situation there, however, proved equally unstable; neither place showed any sign of improving.

‘So in April 2002 Binyam decided to return home to the UK.

‘He was apprehended at Karachi airport for a passport violation.

‘After three months of detention and abuse in Pakistan, Binyam was handed over to the US military, who rendered him to Morocco.

‘In Morocco, Binyam endured eighteen months of shocking torture, including being repeatedly sliced across his body and genitals with a razor blade.

‘In January 2004 Binyam was shipped to further torture in the “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan, before being brought to Guantánamo Bay in September 2004.

‘He has been in Guantánamo ever since.

‘Binyam now faces charges in the discredited military commissions of Guantánamo Bay.

‘The charges against Binyam – which he vigorously denies – are based entirely on torture evidence.

‘Human Cargo is an account of the horrific torture and abuse that Binyam Mohamed underwent in various “black sites” around the world before he arrived at Guantánamo Bay.

‘Further, this report exposes the “anatomy” of a typical US rendition operation, based on Reprieve’s detailed investigation into Binyam’s rendition flight from Morocco to Afghanistan in January 2004.

‘It reveals that in the space of just eight days, at least seven individuals – Binyam Mohamed, German citizen Khaled El-Masri, and five others – were rendered by the same rendition crew.

‘Reprieve is calling for a full and open US investigation into the crimes that have been committed against Binyam Mohamed.

‘Better by far that such an investigation be conducted by the US congressional authorities, rather than wait for the inevitable disclosures and arrest warrants that are already percolating abroad.

‘US officials should immediately:

• convene a Congressional investigation into Binyam Mohamed’s credible allegations of torture, allegations that (according to the British government) have never been investigated by the US;

• turn over all evidence of Binyam’s torture in Morocco, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo to his lawyers, including photographs of his injuries, interrogation logs, and any other relevant material, as set out in detail in each section of this report.

‘UK officials should immediately

• provide to Binyam’s lawyers all information in their files about their involvement in the rendition and torture of Binyam Mohamed;

• convene a full and public enquiry into British collusion in this process, releasing documentary evidence known to be in their possession of Binyam’s abuse to Binyam’s attorneys, the relevant judicial authorities, and the public.

‘ “Torture-gate” and the inevitable exposure of criminal acts. As the Bush Administration comes to an end, it is crucial that its American successors recognise that the term “rendition” is actually a synonym for “kidnapping”.

‘So must the US’s close allies in Europe, who have for years allowed themselves to be pulled along in the wake of this pattern of illegal activity.

‘The law in Europe is already catching up to these crimes. Thirteen individuals responsible for Binyam Mohamed’s second rendition have been indicted and Interpol arrest warrants issued by the Munich Prosecutor’s Office for their role in the rendition of Khaled El-Masri.

‘Investigations are proceeding in Germany against other US personnel involved in these crimes.

‘In the UK, an extensive court inquiry is currently considering the British government’s duty to disclose all the evidence in its possession that supports Binyam Mohamed’s claim that he has been tortured.

‘The Court has ordered a hearing, and it is clear that the UK has such evidence.

‘The UK Intelligence and Security Committee already found it likely, based on the classified testimony of a British intelligence director, that the UK supplied information used during Binyam’s US-sponsored torture in Morocco.

‘Simultaneously, a criminal inquiry in Portugal is investigating Portuguese complicity with rendition – including the flights that carried Binyam Mohamed to his torture chambers.

‘In the meantime, unfortunately, the Bush Administration is busily trying to cover up its role in orchestrating these crimes. Binyam Mohamed’s case is just the most abject story of “Torture-gate”: the effort to suppress evidence that US officials ordered and organised torture around the world.

‘The ripples of this misconduct have spread far and wide, causing untold damage to the reputation of the United States and providing its would-be attackers with a ready-made recruiting tool.

‘Some of this damage has been very personal. Rendition and torture – like the enforced disappearance carried out by Latin American dictators in the 1980s – devastates both its victims and the families it leaves in the dark for years, wondering whether their loved one is dead or alive.

‘When Binyam Mohamed first went missing – years before it came out that he had been sold to the US by the Pakistanis for a bounty – his older brother and sister searched desperately to find him.

‘Both are US citizens, and in their fear they sought help from the FBI.

‘Sadly, no such help was forthcoming. In mid-2002, when Binyam was still in Pakistan and before he was rendered by the CIA to Morocco, his brother and sister spoke separately to James R. Sobchack, an FBI Special Agent with the Washington Metropolitan Field office.

‘Agent Sobchack lied to them, telling them that “the US wouldn’t have him (Binyam) since they ‘didn’t need him’ and that he might be in the custody of the Pakistanis”.

‘Based on this misinformation, his brother travelled all the way to Britain to try to find him; his sister conducted a search through the Pakistani authorities.

‘Meanwhile, Binyam was about to be rendered by the CIA, to suffer unspeakable torture in Morocco.

‘Some of the damage has been done to the US reputation for even-handed justice.

‘José Padilla was held for over three years without trial (and, for the most part, without a lawyer), based on allegations concerning the so-called “Dirty Bomb” plot, where a radioactive timebomb was meant to be detonated in an American city.

‘The Administration quietly swept these allegations under the rug in November 2005, the moment it became clear that Padilla would have to be prosecuted in federal court.

‘The allegations were dropped to avoid a public airing of the supposed “evidence” of the plot – evidence that Binyam Mohamed had been razor-bladed in Morocco.

‘It is revealing that in the same month the “Dirty Bomb” charges were dismissed against Padilla, they were levelled against Binyam Mohamed – in Guantánamo Bay.

‘In other words, the Administration thought that by rigging the rules in a military commission, it could keep all embarrassing evidence out of the public eye.

‘Yet ultimately the crimes committed against Binyam Mohamed cannot be “censored” because some authority somewhere – be it the British courts, the German prosecutors or the Portuguese inquiry – will not allow it.

‘Better that the open investigation take place in the US. Fortunately, while the Bush Administration shows no inclination to allow the truth out, members of Congress are not required to follow suit.

‘As the New York Times reported on 6 June 2008: “Mr. Delahunt’s office said in an e-mail message on Thursday that the congressman would be making an official request for the photographs (of Mr. Mohamed’s abuse).

‘ “Mr. Mohamed’s case has been the source of tension between the United States and Britain.… The British government has … unsuccessfully sought an investigation by the United States into Mr. Mohamed’s accusations that he had been tortured.

‘ “In February, American officials told the British Embassy in Washington that ‘they were not looking into the allegations of mistreatment,’ the British Foreign Office noted in an internal report recently released to Mr. Mohamed’s lawyers, who provided a copy to the New York Times.”

‘This report provides a roadmap for the investigation that should be carried out – identifying what is already known, and what evidence should be compelled by subpoena.’