August 21, 2008
British security services colluded in the unlawful detention and facilitated the interrogation of a UK resident detained in Pakistan six years ago, the high court ruled today.
Two judges found that the foreign secretary had a duty to hand over to Binyam Mohamed’s legal team secret information that could support his case that he was tortured in Pakistan and Morocco before being sent to Guantánamo Bay.
Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones found that the British security service “facilitated interviews by or on behalf of the United States incommunicado and without access to a lawyer in Pakistan” (pdf) in 2002.
The detention was unlawful under Pakistani law, the judges said.
Mohamed, a 30-year-old Ethiopian national who worked as a caretaker in London, was charged by the US with terror offences in May and could face the death penalty if found guilty by a military tribunal.
The judges found the handing over of information held by the British government about the alleged torture Mohamed suffered was “essential for him to have his case fairly considered”.
“Without that information, BM [Mohamed] will not be able to put forward a defence to the very serious charges he faces, given the confessions made by him in Bagram and Guantánamo Bay in 2004,” the judges ruled.
“It is a longstanding principle of the common law that confessions obtained under torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment cannot be used in evidence in trial.”
However, the judges did not order the immediate handover, saying they wanted the foreign secretary to have the opportunity to consider the national security implications of their finding.
The court will decide on the issue following a further hearing next week.
The judges said the court had established that the British secret service facilitated the questioning of Mohamed.