Socialist Worker

Binyam Mohamed: ‘British officers were allies of my abusers’

by Esme Choonara
Issue No. 2140

Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed has finally been released after seven years locked up without charge.

He returned to Britain on Monday of this week – and spoke out against the British intelligence services for their complicity in his torture.

“I have to say, more in sadness than in anger, that many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years,” Binyam wrote in a statement.

“For myself, 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.

“I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open with them.

“Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realised, had allied themselves with my abusers.”

Campaigners have accused foreign secretary David Miliband of covering up Britain’s role in torture. Miliband said that the Labour government “abhors torture and would never authorise it or condone it”.

Yet Miliband has blocked Binyam’s requests for the release of 42 documents recording his treatment from 2002 to 2004.

The documents are in the hands of the British government. Miliband refuses to publish them, arguing that their release would threaten the working relationship between British and US intelligence forces.

It is thought these documents reveal details of Binyam’s torture and the role of British intelligence services in it.

Campaign group Human Rights Watch is set to release a report outlining the complicity of British intelligence forces in torture cases carried out by Pakistan’s secret services.

The report, to be released next month, details the cases of at least ten British citizens who have been tortured in Pakistan and then questioned by British intelligence officials.

Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. The CIA flew him to Morocco where he was tortured by security forces who cut his genitals with razors. He was then held in Afghanistan before being imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Doctors who examined Binyam prior to his release this week said he was severely physically and mentally traumatised by his treatment at the camp.

He was suffering from organ damage, stomach complaints, malnutrition, ligament damage and bruising.

Binyam’s lawyers added that he had been denied counselling in detention and has been beaten up “dozens of times”.

“I have been through an experience that I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares,” he wrote.

“Before this ordeal, ‘torture’ was an abstract word to me. I could never have imagined that I would be its victim.

“It is still difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways – all orchestrated by the US government.”


Bagram airbase

The US justice department ruled last week that 600 prisoners held at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan are effectively outside the rule of law and have no right to a trial.

Guantanamo Bay detainees were given the legal right to challenge their detention last year. Now in a two-line ruling Barack Obama’s administration has stated that it will not grant the same rights to those held at Bagram.

The ruling argues those held at the base are “enemy combatants” in an overseas war zone – so human rights laws do not apply.

Prisoners at the base can be held indefinitely without charge or trial. The base is about to undergo a $60 million expansion creating the capacity to hold 1,100 prisoners.


The Consolidated Brig

The US Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, South Carolina, is a military prison that houses Ali al-Marri. He is a citizen of Qatar who was arrested in September 2001, declared an “enemy combatant” by George Bush and detained ever since without trial.

He is the only “war on terror” detainee to be held on US soil. Campaigners fear that Barack Obama’s administration might use the Charleston brig to house other detainees after Guantanamo Bay is shut down.

Ali’s brother Jarallah – a former Guantanamo detainee himself – is campaigning for his release. He told Socialist Worker that he welcomed news that Ali’s case would be reviewed, but urged the US authorities let his brother go.


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