[DEBATE] : Police probe torture allegations
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sun Apr 5 21:02:17 BST 2009
[coming soon to an fincrisis/enviro campaign near you...]
Police probe torture allegations
Farid Hilali was extradited from Britain to Spain in 2008
Police are investigating a report from a human rights group alleging UK
involvement in the torture of British terror suspects abroad.
Cageprisoners - which campaigns on terror detention - said there were 29
cases of security service involvement with tortured or mistreated suspects.
One case cited, of Moroccan-born Farid Hilali, pre-dates the 9/11 attacks.
UK authorities deny collusion but say interrogating suspects in foreign
prisons yields valuable intelligence.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the force had received the 55-page
Fabricating Terrorism II dossier on Friday.
"We have received a report and are considering its contents," he said.
Responding to the latest claims from Cageprisoners the UK Foreign and
Commonwealth Office (FCO) said it took any allegations of mistreatment
or torture "seriously".
"The UK's position on torture is clear. We abhor torture. We don't
participate, solicit, encourage or condone it. We unreservedly condemn
extraordinary rendition for torture," said a statement.
'War on terror'
The allegations include rendition - where suspects are moved between
countries for questioning - and interrogation of suspects by MI5, MI6
and the SAS in foreign prisons where they have been tortured or
All of the alleged mistreatment took place abroad and the Cageprisoners
report lists a number of countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and Kenya.
It is our longstanding policy not to comment on any operational work of
the intelligence services
A number of those making allegations were transferred to and then
released from Guantanamo Bay, while others are serving prison sentences
in Britain for terrorism offences.
Farid Hilali, a Moroccan man who had been living in Britain, has said he
was questioned by British intelligence officers in a prison in the
United Arab Emirates, where he was tortured.
The claims go back to 1999, two years before the terrorist attacks in
New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, after which US President George
Bush launched what he called the "war on terror".
Mr Hilali was subsequently arrested again in Britain in 2003, detained
on immigration offences, and later accused of having links to the 9/11
He was extradited to Spain in 2008 after authorities there alleged he
was party to a conspiracy there that was linked to and supportive of the
terrorist attacks in 2001.
'Strongest claims yet'
The case of Binyam Mohammed, who returned to the UK from Guantanamo Bay
this year, brought allegations of British involvement in the torture of
terrorism suspects to the fore.
However, the claims have been around for some years, said BBC home
affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford.
The latest allegations were the "strongest yet", he added.
Last month police said they would investigate whether an MI5 officer was
complicit in the torture of Mr Mohamed, 30, who was born in Ethiopia and
moved to Britain aged 15.
Mr Mohamed, a British resident, claims he was tortured in US custody
Mr Mohamed says he was tortured while in US custody in Pakistan, Morocco
and Afghanistan, with the complicity of MI5.
Mr Mohamed said MI5 had prolonged his detention and torture while he was
being held in Morocco in 2002.
The MI5 agent who questioned him has denied threatening or putting any
pressure on Mr Mohamed.
The Attorney General, Baroness Scotland QC, said the police probe was
"the appropriate course of action".
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said it was the first time
anyone could remember the police being asked to investigate MI5.
Following the latest allegations the FCO added that it expected all
countries to abide by international law including the UN convention
against torture and the EU convention on human rights, as Britain did.
"It is our longstanding policy not to comment on any operational work of
the intelligence services, however if there was any question of any
person acting in an official capacity being involved in an act of
torture then this would be a matter for the police," they said.
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