Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed leaving Portcullis House in London / Reuters
The British government admitted today that a terrorist suspect whose case has drawn international attention was interrogated by U.S. officials and tortured during the two years he was held in Morocco.
The findings, resulting from an investigation by England's highest criminal prosecution agency, contradict the obfuscation, stonewalling, and denials by American officials about the case of the suspect, Binyam Mohamed.
At one point, the Obama Administration threatened to cut off intelligence sharing with the UK if a British court ordered the release of classified documents in the case.
Mohamed was picked up in Pakistan in 2002, and U.S. officials alleged that he had undergone training at al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and was preparing to detonate a "dirty bomb" in the United States.
After 18 months of interrogation in Pakistan, the CIA secretly transported him to Morocco as part of the Bush Administration's "extraordinary rendition program," according to Mohamed's lawyers, a claim that appears to be corroborated by the flight records of the CIA-chartered planes. He was later taken to Guantanamo.
The CIA has never admitted that Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British citizen, was ever held in Morocco, and has routinely denied all allegations of torture.
An American military lawyer who represented Mohamed has said that the torture he endured makes waterboarding "look like child's play."
While being interrogated, Mohamed was hanged from a wall with his feet unable to reach the floor, according to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, director of Reprieve, a London-based human rights non-profit. Then, naked women were paraded before him.
On more than one occasion, Mohamed says, men in black masks and military trousers made cuts on his chest and genitals with a razor.
At one point, a woman in the group who spoke with an American accent arrived. She took pictures of his wounds, Mohamed told his lawyer.
In a legal action brought by Mohamed's lawyers while he was still in Guantanamo, a British court said two years ago that documents supported Mohamed's allegations -- but they were classified. Both the British and American governments objected to their release.
Today's statement, by the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard), goes further than any previous official statement in acknowledging the truth of the allegations.
"Mohamed was held in Morocco for at least some time between July 2002 and early 2004," the agencies said in their joint statement.
During that time, British intelligence agents "provided information to the US authorities about Mohamed and supplied questions for the US authorities to put to Mohamed while he was being detained."
The agencies concluded, however, that there was "insufficient evidence" to bring criminal charges against any British intelligence officer.
After nearly seven harrowing years in American custody, Mohamed was released, without any charges being filed against him, in February 2009. He has returned to Britain, married, and provides updates on his Facebook page.
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