The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS); will not prosecute an MI5 officer over the torture of UK resident Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan in 2002, Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer announced yesterday.
MI5 chief Jonathan Evans said he was ‘delighted’, praising the officer, known as Witness B, as being a ‘dedicated’ public servant, and adding: ‘I regret that he has had to endure this long and difficult process.’
In a statement, Starmer said that there is ‘insufficient evidence to prosecute Witness B for any criminal offence arising from the interview of Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan on 17 May 2002.
‘We are unable to release further information at this stage because the wider investigation into other potential criminal conduct arising from allegations made by Mr Mohamed in interviews with the police is still ongoing.’
Witness B was at the heart of allegations made by Binyam that MI5 and MI6 knew that he had been mistreated and tortured.
A separate investigation into an MI6 officer, which the Secret Intelligence Service referred to the police, also continues.
Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Karachi in April 2002 and taken to a detention facility. There, CIA officers questioned him about alleged links to terrorism.
But he was then subjected to what the Court of Appeal in the UK later described as ‘at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment’.
On 17 May, an MI5 officer using the name John conducted a three-hour interview with Binyam at the detention facility. The CIA later flew Binyam to Morocco where, according to court papers, torture included cuts to his genitals.
The CPS decision not to prosecute comes the day after the government paid compensation to 16 men from the UK who were held at Guantanamo Bay, including Binyam.
Legal charity Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith, said that ‘there seems to be political pressure to move forward with the sham Gibson Inquiry, at the cost of a proper police investigation.’
He said the CPS-Met Police statement makes clear ‘the decision to set up a panel to look at other allegations is clearly aimed at the case of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in Guantanamo Bay. Reprieve has provided the police with information on his abuse.’
Stafford-Smith added that ‘this is the first time any official in any country has conceded that Binyam Mohamed was tortured – and it is clear from this statement that the CPS accepts that Mr Mohamed was tortured and it was a criminal offence.’
He concluded: ‘It is unsurprising that they have decided not to prosecute “Witness B”. MI5 and MI6 should of course discipline any staff involved, even if there is no criminal inquiry.
‘But the main focus of all this should not be the rank and file, but those who were signing off the torture policy at the top. In that sense, there remain very real questions for Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and David Miliband, who were in power when these dreadful abuses took place. . .
‘Meanwhile, current government proposals to bury our justice system under a blanket of secrecy when intelligence issues are involved look set to hamstring any future accountability in the courts.’
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, warned: ‘The government’s new Green Paper would shut down open justice forever.’