The War Profiteers - War Crimes, Kidnappings & Torture
June 6th, 2008 - British Judge Sets Hearing on Evidence for Detainee
By Raymond Bonner
New York Times
June 6, 2008
London - A British judge has ordered a hearing into whether the British government must turn over evidence bearing on accusations by a prisoner at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, that he was tortured during interrogation in Morocco.
The judge, acting on a request by lawyers for the prisoner, Binyam Mohamed, rejected an argument of the British government that releasing any documents risked “that more robust evidence of mistreatment of C.I.A. prisoners could emerge in the future.”
The British government, in a court filing last month, accepted that Mr. Mohamed had presented an “arguable case” that he had been tortured after his “extraordinary rendition” to Morocco and Afghanistan. Mr. Mohamed has said that, among other things, his interrogators in Morocco made cuts on his chest and genitals with a razor.
To support Mr. Mohamed’s claim, his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith is seeking photographs that he said an American soldier took of Mr. Mohamed’s injuries, during a flight from Morocco to Cuba.
“I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that those photographs exist,” Mr. Stafford Smith said in an interview on Thursday. Under the strict secrecy rules imposed by the Pentagon on lawyers representing Guantánamo detainees, Mr. Stafford Smith said he could not go into any more detail.
Last week, Mr. Stafford Smith wrote a letter to Representative Bill Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, who has been holding hearings into the prison at Guantánamo, urging him to make an official request to the Pentagon for the photographs.
Mr. Delahunt’s office said in an e-mail message on Thursday that the congressman would be making an official request for the photographs.
Mr. Mohamed’s case has been the source of tension between the United States and Britain. Last August, Britain formally requested that Mr. Mohamed, the last of 15 British citizens or residents still being held at Guantánamo, be released and returned to Britain. The Bush administration declined to do so, and last week, he was officially charged by military prosecutors with two counts of terrorism.
The British government has also unsuccessfully sought an investigation by the United States into Mr. Mohamed’s accusations that he had been tortured. In February, American officials told the British Embassy in Washington that “they were not looking into the allegations of mistreatment,” the British Foreign Office noted in an internal report recently released to Mr. Mohamed’s lawyers, who provided a copy to The New York Times.
In the court case, the British government argued that it was not complicit in any “wrongdoing” by the Americans, and that it had no obligation to release any documents to Mr. Mohamed. In his ruling, on Tuesday, Justice John Saunders rejected the government’s position.
Mr. Mohamed’s lawyers had made a reasonable argument that the British government had an obligation to disclose material that might assist Mr. Mohamed “in establishing before the American Military Court that he was tortured,” Justice Saunders wrote in his one-paragraph decision. He, therefore, ordered an expedited hearing, at which a judge could decide not to require the government to release the documents.
Mr. Mohamed, who was born in Ethiopia, lived in the United States for a few years as a teen-ager, before moving to Britain in 1994. He went to Afghanistan in May 2001, later saying he had done so to get off drugs, and the Taliban had a strict no-drugs policy.
In the charges filed against him last week, prosecutors assert that Mr. Mohamed had trained at several camps of Al Qaeda, and that he had conspired with other Qaeda operatives to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States, including the detonation of a so-called dirty bomb.
At his Combatant Status Review Tribunal hearing at Guantánamo in 2004, Mr. Mohamed admitted that he had received paramilitary training at a Qaeda camp, including how to falsify documents and how to encode telephone numbers, according to the official transcript of the hearing.
He said that the training was in preparation for going to fight in Chechnya, and he denied that he had any intention to carry out any attacks against the United States.
Mr. Mohamed was arrested with a false passport in April 2002 by the Pakistani immigration authorities at the airport in Karachi, and turned over to the United States.
Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company
External link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/world/06london.html