Government Refusing To Disclose Torture Evidence


A BRITISH Court yesterday ordered an expedited hearing on whether the British government can ignore the plea by London man Binyam Mohamed for evidence that could help prove his innocence in a Guantánamo Bay Military Commission, and his years of torture.

On June 3 2008, the Pentagon finally announced that it was charging British resident Binyam Mohamed in the military commissions – the quasi-legal procedure denounced by the British government and described by former British Lord Justice Steyn as a ‘kangaroo court.’

The allegations centre on the long-discredited ‘dirty bomb plot’, in which US citizen Jose Padilla was meant to have planned to explode a nuclear bomb in a US city.

The charges were described as ‘implausible’ even by senior Bush Administration figures and were dropped against Mr Padilla, who had the benefit of a civilian court.

Three years later, they have been resuscitated against Binyam Mohamed.

Binyam Mohamed strongly denies the charges, and all the evidence against him to date was derived from the two years of torture he suffered after being rendered to Morocco and the ‘Dark Prison’ in Afghanistan by the CIA.

On June 3 2008, in London, Mr Justice John Sanders ordered that an urgent hearing be held on Mr Mohamed’s request for a judicial review following the UK government’s claim that it would not provide information about his CIA sponsored torture in Morocco and that it was therefore refusing to help him prove in his forthcoming US military commission, either that he was tortured or that he is innocent of the charges.

Working with the law firm Leigh Day, the UK charity Reprieve sued the British government, demanding that the government turn over evidence that could help prove both Binyam Mohamed’s innocence and the extent of his torture.

The government, through its lawyers, responded that ‘the UK is under no obligation under international law to assist foreign courts and tribunals in assuring that torture evidence is not admitted’ and that ‘it is HM government’s position that . . . evidence held by the UK Government that US and Moroccan authorities engaged in torture or rendition cannot be obtained’ by the British lawyers who are trying to provide Mr Mohamed with a fair trial.

It was remarkable that the government should take such a posture, and the Court duly rejected the argument.

‘If it is correct’, Mr Justice Sanders wrote, ‘that in the course of an interrogation, in which material supplied by the Defendant (HM Government) was employed, the Claimant (Binyam Mohamed) was tortured, then it is arguable that there is an obligation to disclose material which may assist Claimant in establishing before the American Military Court that he was tortured.

‘Whether the Court should exercise its discretion not to order disclosure can only be determined at a full hearing.’