Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

UK torture intelligence 'dilemma'

Binyam Mohamed getting off his plane
Binyam Mohamed's return to the UK has thrown the spotlight on torture

Intelligence which could have been derived through torture presents the UK with a "very real dilemma", the UK Foreign Office has said.

In its annual report on human rights, the Foreign Office makes clear the government's opposition to torture.

But the report says intelligence gained in such a way which suggests threats to life cannot be completely ignored.

The government is to publish new guidance for intelligence officers on interviewing overseas detainees.

It follows concerns about the treatment of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.

Mr Mohamed claimed he was tortured while in US custody in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan and that British agents were complicit in his alleged mistreatment.

MPs have demanded a judicial inquiry into Mr Mohamed's claims that MI5 was complicit in his torture.

His allegations are being investigated by the Attorney General's Office which will make a written statement to Parliament on the case later on Thursday.


In its human rights report, the Foreign Office says the British government abhors the use of torture, does not practise it, order it from others or condone it.

But the report also talks about the difficult decisions and challenges in some areas of counter-terrorism, such as intelligence provided to the UK by other countries which may have been obtained via torture.

The report says that where this intelligence suggests threats to life, the government cannot reject it out of hand even though information obtained through torture could not be evidence in any legal proceedings in Britain.

On so-called "extraordinary rendition" - the transfer of suspects from one country to another for detention and interrogation - the report says Britain unreservedly condemns any rendition to torture.

The government has not approved and will not approve a policy of facilitating the transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to believe they would face a real risk of torture, it adds.

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