Socialist Worker

New dossier details British torture role

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2146

Further evidence is emerging of systematic British involvement in “extraordinary rendition”.

In a dossier compiled by the human rights organisation Cage Prisoners, a series of victims allege that British MI5, MI6 and SAS officers witnessed their ill-treatment and provided questions for their interrogation in Pakistan, Kenya and countries across the Middle East.

The accusations expand on those made by former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed. The 55-page dossier was compiled over four years by lawyers for Cage Prisoners. It details 29 cases of British involvement with tortured or mistreated suspects.

The stories detailed include that of Binyam Mohamed and others that are already known, but also includes ten previously unreported accounts.

The report’s introduction explains that it details “the experiences of British citizens and British residents granted asylum which illustrate the manner in which they have passed through a subterranean system of kidnappings, ghosted to ‘black sites’, suffering abuse and torture”.

One case – that of Moroccan-born Farid Hilali in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – predates the 9/11 attacks and the start of the “war on terror”.

Hilali says of his 1999 interrogation, “Why was I being abused by the UAE authorities when the British were the ones who wanted to ask me questions?”

He recalls that a British man came in and “introduced himself to me by saying that he represented the British government and that he was there to ask me some questions”.

Hilali says, “Because I did not cooperate with this British agent, the officers … took me and began to beat me violently for a long period. They put me in a dark cell for three days without food or water, no one came to speak to me – and that was just the start of the punishment I was to receive.”

The terrible treatment of prisoners cannot simply be seen as excesses from the height of the “war on terror”. The most recent allegations refer to incidents that took place last year.

Azhar Khan spoke of his experience in Egypt in 2008:

“I was subjected to electrocution, beatings, starvation for certain periods and sleep deprivation. Over a period of five days, I was subjected to various stress positions. During interrogations I was asked about my family, friends, upbringing.

“None of the questions were related to Egypt, my trip to Egypt, or whether or not I even had any associates or friends that resided in Egypt.

“All the questions were related to the UK and people in the UK.”

Similar allegations have been circulating for a number of years, but these are the most detailed testimonies yet produced.

The police have said they will look into the allegations in the dossier. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee is also investigating the claims. The British government continues to deny any involvement in torture.

Jeremy Croft of Amnesty International said, “We also need a separate independent inquiry into allegations from Mr Mohamed and others that the UK colluded in their torture, rendition, illegal detention and other human rights abuses.

“Mr Mohamed’s claim is far from being the only case where there are serious allegations that the UK colluded in the mistreatment or illegal detention of people from this country and elsewhere.”

Fabricating Terrorism ll: British Complicity In Renditions And Torture is available at » www.cageprisoners.com


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Tue 7 Apr 2009, 19:04 BST
Issue No. 2146
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