The British foreign office has been forced to admit that a senior MI6 officer was present at the interrogation of Pakistani immigrants who were illegally seized in Greece. The 28 men were abducted from their homes then beaten and psychologically tortured.
Foreign secretary Jack Straw had last week flatly denied reports in Proto Thema, a Greek weekly, that British officials were involved in the seizure of the Pakistanis by EYP, the Greek intelligence agency, in the wake of the July bombings in London.
But Proto Thema reports that Greek agents beat and psychologically tortured detainees to “show off” in front of the British officer.
Three of the men spoke out at a press conference organised by the Greek Stop the War Coalition on Tuesday of this week, adding to mounting pressure on the Tory government there, and what should be equal pressure on Straw.
Munir Mohamed, one of the three, said, “On 17 July we were in our garden when seven or eight persons claiming to be police appeared. They showed no identification and asked for our mobile phones. I was the only one not having a mobile.
“I was a newcomer in Greece from Pakistan and I hadn’t yet bought one. They said, ‘You are a liar. You have hidden your mobile.’
“So they took me to a separate room. They handcuffed me, pressed me against the wall and started beating. After a while they took me outside with the others. I had blood on my lips.
“They put our shirts on our heads and put us in a van and took us to an unknown place. There I was kept separated. They interrogated me for about two and a half hours. They were asking, ‘What do you know about London? What happened in the tube?’
“They were threatening me. I stayed there two days. Then they put me in a car and took me to another unknown place, still blindfolded. I stayed in that second place for five days. The interrogation continued there, three times a day.
“When they finally let me go, they told me, ‘Don’t you dare tell a word about what happened in here. If we find out you said something, either we’ll bring you here again or we’ll cut your throat’.”
The mainstream British press has largely ignored this story and has obeyed a gagging order on naming the MI6 agent present at some of the interrogations. He is Nicholas Langman, who is officially listed as a “counsellor” at the British embassy in Athens.
The Greek media, however, is homing in on attempts by their government at a cover-up.
A former minister of justice, Georgios Alexandros Mangakis, told journalists on Tuesday, “This case is a blatant violation of every human right and of political liberties. The interrogation of the 28 immigrants from Pakistan was totally illegal.
“These are the results of Tony Blair’s and George Bush’s illegal war and the occupation of Iraq. The only hope is the popular mobilisation against the war and in defence of civil rights.” The same is true here.