Parliamentary report: UK knew about American abuse of detainees

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

British MPs have found that the UK tolerated “inexcusable” treatment of detainees after the 9/11 attacks.

The Intelligence and Security Committee said it was “beyond doubt” the UK knew how the US mistreated some detainees, which often amounted to torture.

The report by the Intelligence and Security Committee says that British agencies suggested, planned or agreed to a rendition operation in 28 cases. It says the UK knew or suspected detainees were abused in 232 cases. And it says in 198 cases British agencies received information from interrogations where they knew detainees had been mistreated.

Abed Choudary, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: “I think a lot of us have suspected this since 9/11 when reports of the Americans torturing people in Guantanamo Bay or in Afghanistan or in Iraq came out. It was always suspected that some of the partner countries who were going along with them were involved in some of this so I guess this is just confirmation of what NGOs or people working in this area have suspected for a long time.”

The report said UK resident Binyam Mohamed was held in Pakistan and Morocco where he was tortured. Despite knowing this, UK agencies gave questions to the US to be put to him.

Another victim was Moazzam Begg who said he was hooded, shackled, and had a gun put to his head while British intelligence agents were physically there watching.

The report added that “more could have been done” by security agencies and ministers in Tony Blair’s government to try and influence US behaviour.

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Prime Minister Theresa May said British personnel had been working in “a new and challenging operating environment” which some were “not prepared” for.  She added “it took too long to recognise that guidance and training for staff was inadequate”, and said British intelligence and the Army were “much better placed to meet that challenge”.

But today MPs are calling for a new inquiry into Britain’s involvement into rendition.

Abed Choudary said: “Every time we see the British government accused of violence anywhere in the world they use similar sorts of language – “we didn’t know about it or we weren’t aware of this or this was a different set of circumstances.” Whether we are talking about Ireland or Iraq or if we go back to the colonial era it’s always the same thing – so we basically have a situation where the government is complicit or turning a blind eye to this but they’re trying to justify obscene acts to make it palatable to the general public.”

Lindsey German, of The Stop the War Coalition added: “This report makes clear the complicity of British secret services in these processes of rendition. Calls for a full inquiry are only part of the answer. The real problem is that government ministers acted with impunity during the war on terror.

“Tony Blair and Jack Straw behaved despicably during this war using lies and deception on their every undeavour to support a right wing US president. Now with Theresa May and Trump were seeing it all over again. After Chilcot surely this is more evidence that Blair should be in the dock, not feted by the BBC as should all those responsible.”

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