LABOUR GIVEN A WEEK! – to disclose torture evidence

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Demonstration in Trafalgar Square in June demanding the release of Binyam Mohamed from Guantánamo prison
Demonstration in Trafalgar Square in June demanding the release of Binyam Mohamed from Guantánamo prison

Yesterday’s High Court ‘torture verdict strongly condemned the UK government for complicity in US crimes’, said legal charity Reprieve.

Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones handed down their judgement yesterday morning on the case of Guantánamo Bay prisoner and British resident Binyam Mohamed.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband was given one week in which to reconsider the government’s refusal to share evidence with Mohamed that could help prove his innocence.

The lawsuit was brought by solicitors Leigh Day.

It followed the government’s refusal to disclose such evidence, claiming that ‘the UK is under no obligation under international law to assist foreign courts and tribunals in assuring that torture evidence is not admitted’.

The Foreign Office also insisted 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 his British lawyers.

Lord Thomas and Justice Jones held five days of hearings involving evidence of British complicity in Mohamed’s torture.

Legal charity Reprieve represents Mohamed in Guantánamo Bay, and has revealed evidence which it says shows that he was rendered to Morocco where he was tortured in ways that are medieval.

The US now seeks to use the fruit of this torture in a Guantánamo military commission.

The British court expressed deep concern that the US authorities will not even admit where Mohamed was for two years, from May 2002 to May 2004.

Reprieve insisted: ‘While US authorities deny that anyone has been rendered to another country for torture, Mohamed’s allegations are unrebutted, and are strongly supported by evidence in UK hands.

‘For example:

‘The US would not even tell the UK where he was for the two years he was missing.

‘Evidence provided by the UK to the US matched the material that Mohamed says was used by the Moroccan torturers.

‘Evidence in British hands proves that various of the allegations against Mohamed are false.’

The Court held that Mohamed was not likely to receive this exculpatory information from the US authorities, and found that the UK should reveal it.

The Court reminded the British and American governments that ‘the torturer has become like the pirate and the slave trader before him . . . an enemy of all mankind.’

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s Director, who has represented Mohamed since 2005, stated: ‘This is a momentous decision.

‘The Bush Administration committed crimes against Binyam Mohamed. The British government may have been Bush’s poodle, but the British courts remain bulldogs when it comes to human rights.

‘Compelling the British government to release information that can prove Mr Mohamed’s innocence is one obvious step towards making up for the years of torture that he has suffered.

‘The next step is for the British government to demand an end to the charade against him in Guantánamo Bay, and return him home to Britain.’