Foreign Secretary in bid to halt disclosure of British collusion in torture

David Miliband will go to court again this week to prevent evidence of torture in the case of Binyam Mohamed from being disclosed.

Foreign Secretary David Milliband will tomorrow argue that disclosure of CIA files evidencing MI5 and MI6 involvement in the unlawful treatment of a UK resident, Binyam Mohamed, would be detrimental to national security interests.

Mr Miliband is appealing against six high court judgments ruling that the information must be disclosed, and that they give rise to “an arguable case of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

The two high court judges insist that the document does not contain sensitive intelligence material, and that “it was in our view difficult to conceive that a democratically elected and accountable government could possibly have any rational objection to placing into the public domain such a summary”.

Mr Mohamed, an Ethiopian national, was granted asylum in the UK in 1994. He visited Pakistan on his way back from a trip to Afghanistan in 2001, and was arrested as a suspected terrorist.

He contends that he was then the subject of the United States’s extraordinary rendition policy, under which he was repeatedly tortured.

He claims that in Morocco his interrogators routinely beat him, and threatened him with rape, electrocution and death; he was cut 20 to 30 times with scalpels on his genitals, and had hot stinging liquids poured on the wounds.

He adds that he was kept at a U.S.-run prison in Kabul where his head was hit against the wall until it bled, he was forced to listen to loud music and recordings of people screaming day and night, and made false confessions to avoid torture.

He was allowed outside for five minutes in May 2004, the first time he had seen sun in two years.

In September 2004 he was transferred to Guantánamo, and charges against him were eventually dropped. In a statement following his release and return to the UK, he said that during all his time in detention “the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence”.

Counsel for Mr Mohamed and several media and civil rights groups will tomorrow argue that public interest in disclosing the role of British and US agencies in these activities outweighs claims about national security. It is the first case in which the high court has questioned head-on claims by a government that evidence must be withheld on these grounds.

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