‘Hooded, shackled, with gun to my head’ – UK spies witnessed

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‘WE still don’t know the process of accountability,’ British citizen Moazzam Begg, previously held in Guantanamo Bay, said criticising the scope of an inquiry into torture and extraordinary rendition.

He was responding to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report released yesterday which showed that there were at least 13 cases where UK spies witnessed at first-hand a detainee being mistreated by the US operatives.

Moazzam Begg said: ‘British intelligence agents were physically there watching as I was hooded, shackled, with a gun to my head, threatened with being sent to Syria or Egypt if I didn’t co-operate. ‘There was the sound of a woman screaming in the room next door, that I was led to believe was my wife being tortured. British intelligence agents knew all about this.’

Although there is no evidence US rendition flights transited through the UK, there is evidence that two detainees went through the Indian Ocean British Territory of Diego Garcia, where records about the conditions in which they were held are ‘woefully inadequate’.

The report states: ‘That the US, and others, were mistreating detainees is beyond doubt, as is the fact that the agencies and defence intelligence were aware of this at an early point.’

Tory MP Dominic Grieve, chair of the ISC, said: ‘We find it astonishing that given the intense focus on this issue ten years ago, the government has failed to take action. There is no clear policy, not even agreement over who has responsibility for preventing UK complicity in unlawful rendition. In particular, we note the government has failed to introduce a process to ensure that allies can’t use UK territory for rendition purposes without prior permission.’

Responding to the Intelligence and Security reports released today, Bella Sankey, Deputy Director of Reprieve, said: ‘Dominic Grieve has exposed systemic levels of UK support for torture and rendition operations up until 2010 despite the restrictions his Committee were operating under.  ‘But he makes clear in his statement today that he has been forced to “draw a line” under its inquiry after the government refused access to key witnesses.

‘The evidence the Committee heard amounted to just 6 minutes of oral evidence per case of torture or rendition with UK involvement. We have only scratched the surface. ‘The Prime Minister has so far shown contempt for the Committee’s work and its recommendations.

‘She must now listen to cross party calls to deliver what the government originally promised: an independent judge-led inquiry which can explore the dark corners the ISC could not reach.  ‘The Prime Minister must also publicly consult on her Torture Guidance which still to this day fails to protect both agents on the ground and hundreds of individuals at risk of mistreatment.’