Britain has been complicit in the human rights abuses committed by US
authorities at Guantanamo Bay prison camp, according to a report released
Drawing on exhaustive interviews with detainees and evidence from security
services, the dossier gives the complete picture of the British government's
co- operation with the US over a camp it now says should be closed.
The report, Fabricating Terrorism - British Complicity in Renditions and
Terror, is a scathing indictment of the British government's "systematic
violations of international law" over its co-operation with the US
authorities in the detention of British citizens and residents at the US-run
facility in Cuba. The research, compiled by the human rights group Cage
Prisoners, plots British involvement in the cases of 13 current or former
Guantanamo detainees - either British citizens or residents.
All the detainees in the report consistently testified that UK authorities
were aware of their plight and unwilling to intervene despite the knowledge
that they were either at risk of torture or said they had been tortured.
There is no suggestion British authorities played any part in torturing the
detainees but the report does argue consistent co-operation between the US
and UK has led to an "international chain of abuse" that flies in the face
of the British government projecting itself as a leader in the field of
One of the most serious cases surrounds the rendition, imprisonment and
alleged torture of Benyam Mohammed al-Habashi, an Ethiopian national with
British residency, who was arrested in April 2002 as he tried to leave
Pakistan. Benyam was later "rendered" to Morocco and Afghanistan before
arriving in Guantanamo in September 2004. Mr al-Habashi claims that, while
in a secret detention facility south of the Moroccan capital Rabat, he was
brutally tortured by his interrogators as they asked questions that could
only have been supplied by the British.
In December last year, Jack Straw was forced to admit that MI6 had
interrogated Mr al-Habashi in Pakistan before he was sent to Morocco but
insisted the security services "did not observe any abuse".
Clive Stafford Smith, Mr al-Habashi's lawyer, argues that the nature of his
client's imprisonment in Morocco makes the British government complicit in
his torture. "The British government was complicit in some of the abuses
that took place against Benyam ... to the extent that the Government told
the Moroccans information that they would use against him in the torture
sessions." Now on hunger strike, Mr al-Habashi is one of 10 Guantanamo
detainees waiting to be tried by a US Military Commission.
Two British residents, Omar Deghayes and Shaker Aamer, both still
incarcerated in Guantanamo also say they were questioned by British
authorities before their rendition and imprisonment in Guantanamo. Similarly
many of those who have since been released without charge also accuse
London of knowing well in advance that they were being transported to Cuba.
The latest findings show mounting evidence of consistent involvement and
presence of UK officials in run up to the transfer of many British citizens
and residents to Guantanamo. "In nearly every single case," the report says,
"British intelligence was fully aware of the status of these individuals and
still allowed for their transfer."
Geoffrey Bindman, the chairman of the British Institute of Human Rights,
argues that each case study shows a worrying level of UK collusion. "If
substantiated," he writes in the report's forward, "they demonstrate an
intolerable level of collaboration and collusion between the UK and US
authorities in the abuses which have taken place at Guantanamo and elsewhere
through the 'outsourcing' of torture.
"They also demonstrate a pathetic reluctance on the part of the UK
government to stand up for the rights of its citizens and permanent
residents against illegal and unacceptable treatment."
The government has argued it is unable to intervene on behalf of those
British residents still left in Guantanamo such as Mr Deghayes and Mr Aamer
because they do not hold British passports.
Asim Qureshi of Cage Prisoners said he hoped the report would help alert
British citizens to the dangerous policies that are being carried out in
their name. "Rendition and torture do not help build security but instead
only compromise the standing and security of the British Government in the
Rendered to Guantanamo?
* BINYAM MOHAMMED AL-HABASHI
Visited by MI6 agents while in prison in Karachi who told him he would be
moved to Morocco. Upon arrival, MI5 agents supplied interrogators with
information to ease the extraction of confessions. He remains in Guantanamo
* JAMAL AL-HARITH
Fell into the hands of US forces while imprisoned by the Taliban in
Afghanistan. Despite promises to help establish his innocence, the British
Embassy in Kabul permitted his rendition to Guantanamo Bay.
* JAMIL EL BANNA,
Picked up by authorities in the Gambia on the advice of the British and
subsequently rendered to Guantanamo. Still imprisoned.
* MOAZZAM BEGG
Regularly questioned by British authorities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, who
* MARTIN MUBANGA
British intelligence supplied evidence leading to his arrest in Lusaka.
Questioned regularly by British agents. MI5 still allowed US forces to
render him to Guantanamo.
* OMAR DEGHAYES
Interrogated by a British officer by the name of "Andrew" in Pakistan, who
promised to return him home if he co-operated. Despite complying, he was
sent to Guantanamo, where he remains.
* RICHARD BELMAR
Held in Pakistan where requests from the British Consulate to visit him fell
on deaf ears. By the time access was granted, Belmar was on his way to
Guantanamo. M15 had been permitted full access from day one.
* THE TIPTON THREE: SHAFIQ RASUL, RHUHEL AHMED, ASIF IQBAL
Held by US forces in Afghanistan, where they were questioned by British
officials before being rendered.
* SHAKER AAMER
Interrogated by MI5 and MI6 in Kandahar. On hunger strike in Guantanamo.
* TAREK DERGOUL
Questioned in Afghanistan by British forces. Believing they intended to help, he complied. He was rendered to Guantanamo.
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