x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ex-Guantanamo prisoners sue UK

Seven former Guantanamo Bay detainees allege that British intelligence officers were present while they were tortured at detention centres.

LONDON // Seven former Guantanamo Bay detainees have demanded the British government make public allegations that it was complicit in their torture. The men are among 11 people suing Britain over its alleged collusion in their mistreatment overseas. Britain denies that it was complicit in torture overseas. The men's lawyers, due to address Britain's High Court on Tuesday, argue that previously secret evidence about the detainees must be heard in public. All seven men were released from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay without charge. They claim they were abused while in detention, and that Britain was aware or involved in their mistreatment.

Binyam Mohamed - an Ethiopian who moved to Britain as a teenager - is among the seven men involved in the case. He claims he was tortured in Pakistan and Morocco after he was arrested in 2002, and that British intelligence officers were aware of his mistreatment. Lawyers claim that documents in the cases show that British intelligence staff questioned the men in detention, or supplied questions for others to do so. Britain's government has long acknowledged that officers from Britain's military, or MI5 and MI6 intelligence agencies, interviewed dozens of detainees overseas in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The government insists officers raised any concerns about mistreatment with those holding detainees, but the seven former detainees claim secret documents show British officials were present during instances of torture and failed to intervene. Lawyers for Britain's government say thousands of documents related to the case cannot be shown to lawyers, or dealt with in open court sessions, as that would risk compromising national security and international relations.

"That the government is seeking to introduce such unconstitutional and manifestly unfair measures by the back door only serves to further raise suspicions about what they are trying to hide," said Mohamed's lawyer Sapna Malik. In addition to Mohamed, the other former detainees in the case are Bisher Al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga. The hearing is expected to last three days.

* AP