Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Secret terror detentions role denied by UK

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The UK has rejected as "unsubstantiated and irresponsible" a United Nations report claiming British involvement in secret detention of terror suspects.

The report claims the UK has submitted questions to be asked by interrogators and received information related to detainees held in secret prisons.

The Foreign Office said the study presented old information and "unproven allegations as if they were fact".

The report is by independent UN Human Rights Council investigators.

It does not accuse the UK of holding detainees in secret prisons itself, but claims Britain has taken advantage of their imprisonment in other states by soliciting or receiving information from those countries.

The report's allegations refer to several named detainees, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.

The Ethiopian-born UK resident has claimed that British authorities colluded in his torture while he was detained by US agents.

The British government is currently engaged in a court battle to prevent the release of US intelligence documents detailing the abuse allegations.

'Serious problem'

The practice of moving terrorist suspects from one country to another for interrogation and possible imprisonment without legal protection is known as "extraordinary rendition".

The report, due to be presented to the Human Rights Council in March, found that "secret detention in connection with counter-terrorist policies remains a serious problem".

It named dozens of countries alleged to have kidnapped and held terrorism suspects secretly since the 11 September attacks in 2001.

"Little is known about the amount of detainees who have been held at the request of other states, such as the United Kingdom," it added.

We oppose any deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing individuals beyond the protection of the law
Foreign Office statement

The report said detainees and their families should be compensated, and alleged perpetrators prosecuted.

"Secret detention as such may constitute torture or ill-treatment for the direct victims as well as their families," the study said.

In response, a Foreign Office statement said: "The most galling aspect of the report is that despite being asked in successive meetings with officials to substantiate their claims and provide us with information which would allow us to investigate the allegations, no significant information was provided.

"The UK's position on secret detention is clear: we oppose any deprivation of liberty that amounts to placing individuals beyond the protection of the law."

Security and intelligence services in the UK did not operate without control or oversight, the statement said.

"There is no truth in the suggestion that it is our policy to collude, solicit or participate in abuses of prisoners. Nor is it true that wrongdoing is covered up."

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