Thursday, February 11, 2010
UK details US torture of Ethiopian-born detainee
The British government has been ordered to publish previously secret information about the alleged torture of former British detainee Binyam Mohamed by US authorities.
The information released shows that Britain was aware of allegations that Binyam Mohamed was being tortured while in US custody after his arrest in Pakistan in 2002.
Britain had wanted to keep the information secret, saying that revealing it would have harmed its relationship with the United States.
However, Britain's Court of Appeals ruled that the seven paragraphs about Mohamed must be released.
The texts say that Mohamed was subjected to continuous sleep deprivation as well as being threatened.
His fears of being removed from US custody and 'disappearing' were played upon, the newly released information said.
Ethiopia-born Mohamed was kept under self-harm observation and “the interviews were having a marked effect on him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.”
"Although it is not necessary for us to categorize the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities," the text said.
After being held in US custody for seven years, Mohamed returned to Britain once all the charges were dropped against him in February of 2009.
Following Mohamed's arrest in Pakistan, he was moved to Morocco, were he was interrogated by US authorities, said Reprieve, a legal charity that has taken on Mohamed's case.
According to Reprieve, the British government knew Mohamed was in Morocco and that US authorities were interrogating him.
"During his time in Morocco, Binyam was subject to really medieval torture, among other horrors, a razor blade was regularly taken to his genitals," Reprieve said.
After spending a year and a half in Morocco, Mohamed was taken to a prison in Afghanistan and kept in complete darkness and tortured for another six months before being taken to Guantanamo Bay, Reprieve said. He remained in captivity there for an additional four years.
Mohamed explained that the “dark prison” in Afghanistan resembled a medieval dungeon with loud music and noise 24 hours a day.
"It was pitch black, no lights on in the rooms for most of the time," he has said. "They hung me up for two days. My legs had swollen. My wrists and hands had gone numb. There was loud music, Slim Shady (by Eminem) and Dr. Dre for 20 days. Then they changed the sounds to horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds.”
"At one point, I was chained to the rails for a fortnight. The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night. Plenty [of the detainees] lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off," he said.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was disclosing the information because it had already been put into the public domain by the decision of a US court in another case.