Page last updated at 07:32 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 08:32 UK

Appeal over torture claim ruling

Binyam Mohamed
Mr Mohamed claims he was brutally tortured in Morocco

The government says it will appeal against a ruling that US intelligence documents detailing the alleged torture of an ex-UK resident can be released.

Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, 31, who spent four years in Guantanamo Bay, claims British authorities colluded in his torture while he was in Morocco.

The UK government, which stopped judges publishing the claims on national security grounds, denies any collusion.

A US State Department spokesman said it was "not pleased" by the court ruling.

Any publication of the material will be delayed until an appeal takes place.

The key document in the case is a summary of abuse allegations that US intelligence officers shared with their counterparts in London.

When the High Court gave its original judgement on the case last year, a seven-paragraph summary of Mr Mohamed's torture claims was removed on the orders of Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

BINYAM MOHAMED
Detained in Pakistan in 2002, questioned there by MI5 officer
Transferred to Morocco, claims he was tortured in US custody and asked questions supplied by MI5
Later interred in Guantanamo Bay and eventually released in 2009

Mr Miliband argued that releasing the material would threaten Britain's national security because future intelligence sharing with the US could be compromised.

But at the High Court on Friday, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones ruled that the risk to national security was "not a serious one" and there was "overwhelming" public interest in disclosing the material.

Their judgement was also delayed on Friday because MI5 insisted part of it - explaining why there was such a significant public interest in the case - should be redacted.

Ex-shadow home secretary David Davis - who first raised the case in the House of Commons - said it was "time for the government to accept the ruling of the court and stop trying to delay proceedings with further futile appeals".

Mr Davis added: "The British public have a right to know the judges' assessment of the extent of complicity of the UK and US Intelligence services in torture, and to determine for themselves why the government has tried for so long to cover up this assessment."

David Miliband: "If we give away other people's secrets, they will give us less information"

But Mr Miliband told the BBC's Newsnight that the court had breached a "fundamental principle" of intelligence sharing.

He said: "I have absolutely no objection to this material being put into the public domain by the US."

But, he added, "the principle is that one country's intelligence secrets belong to that country.

"If I give you my secrets, you don't put them into the public domain."

He said that if the court's ruling were upheld, "every other country that works with us on security issues will have to think again because they will have to be confident that the intelligence material that they share with us is safe with us".

Kurt Volker, former US ambassador to Nato, told the BBC this argument went "right to the heart of the issue".

He said: "If it is US intelligence information shared with the UK, and then that is released on the order of a UK court, then I think it calls into question what future intelligence can be shared.

'Not a threat'

"Please don't understand that as a threat that the US would seek to retaliate, but rather more an observation of how intelligence organisations are going to have to try to protect their own information if there is a risk it is going to be released."

The US also denies any allegations of torture concerning Mr Mohamed and a former senior official in the Bush administration told the BBC releasing the material would have an "enormous chilling effect" on US-UK relations.

Ian Kelly, a spokesman for the US State Department, praised Mr Miliband for his decision to appeal.

Asked at a press conference for his reaction to the court's verdict, Mr Kelly told reporters: "We are not pleased - and this has nothing to do with due process here.

"This has everything to do with the importance of protecting sensitive national security information and protecting this confidential channel that we have with our allies."

'Dirty work'

Mr Mohamed, who once lived in north Kensington, London, was first detained in Pakistan in 2002. He was questioned there by an MI5 officer before being transferred to Morocco.

He says while in US custody in Morocco he was tortured at the behest of the CIA and asked questions supplied by British intelligence agency MI5.

Mr Mohamed was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay and eventually released in February this year.

Before Friday's judgment, Mr Mohamed told BBC the material should be released.

Our courts should be gagged no longer and the crucial incriminating paragraphs published without delay
Shami Chakrabarti
Liberty

He said: "The public needs to know what their government has been up to for the last seven years.

"There's information in there, which I'm 99% sure, states that the US sub-contracted the UK government to do its dirty work."

HIGH COURT RULING
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Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the court was right to argue that publication would not jeopardise British-American security co-operation.

In March, Attorney General Baroness Scotland confirmed the police would investigate whether an MI5 officer had been complicit in the alleged torture of Mr Mohamed.



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