Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Analysis: Torture detail revealed

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News

Binyam Mohamed
Binyam Mohamed says he was never told why he was being held

Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002. He was soon handed over to the US authorities as a suspected terrorist.

The British secret intelligence services MI5 and MI6 were both interested in Mr Mohamed and wanted to find out more about whether he was a genuine threat to national security.

Mr Mohamed was held incommunicado from April 2002 and interviewed by US interrogators. A month later, MI5 and MI6 received reports from the US on Mr Mohamed's detention and treatment.

A seven-paragraph summary of these reports was taken out of a High Court judgement on 21 August 2008 in which judges were deciding whether or not the UK had a role in the wrongdoing.

The previously secret summary fits in to the original judgement from Paragraph 87 onwards. The story picks up what intelligence officers had been told.


It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

Analysis: Mr Mohamed asked what crime he had committed but says he was never told why he was being held. In the years after 9/11, the CIA deployed new and harder techniques for interviewing suspects. The Obama administration has released a key document from this period that sets out harsh techniques that could be used against some suspected terrorists.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

Analysis: Part of the new US strategy was to pile more pressure on a suspect who they believed might have been linked to plots in the US. But while ratcheting up the pressure, the interrogation team had to tread a grey legal line between torture and what they regarded as tough but legitimate techniques.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and disappearing were played upon.

Analysis: Three months later, Mr Mohamed was put on a secret flight from Pakistan to Morocco, where he was subjected to extremely serious abuse, including a scalpel being used to cut his genitals. He was kept there for 18 months.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews.

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the interviews were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provided to the SyS [security service, MI5] made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

Analysis: British security services operate under rules covering what officers should do when they discover a detainee is being abused by a foreign agency. We do not know what those rules are and what they say about the potential for legal complicity in ill-treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities.

Analysis: This is a clear reference to an undertaking given by then Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath that the UK would ban some interrogation methods used against Northern Ireland paramilitaries. Sir Edward banned sensory deprivation, hooding and other stress techniques. The UK signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1985.



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