Binyam Mohamed: secrets and obfuscation
22 Apr 09

Index on Censorship joined the US and UK media today in an application to the High Court in London, seeking the disclosure of evidence in the case of Binyam Mohamed, the former Guantanamo detainee. Last year, information outlining Binyam Mohamed’s treatment at the hands of US officials was redacted from a court judgment. Lawyers for the foreign secretary, David Miliband, had claimed that if the seven paragraphs containing the information were released, it would endanger the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US. However, Binyam Mohamed’s lawyer Dinah Rose QC argued today that the government’s representation had been ‘seriously misleading’. Although officials in the Bush administration had suggested last year that relations would be affected, it transpired that the Foreign Office had not in fact contacted the new US administration to ask if it held the same line. Rose described the failure of the foreign secretary to clarify the position as ‘indefensible’ and added that the basis on which the Public Interest Immunity certificate had been signed could no longer be sustained.

Following the publication of ‘the torture memos’ on 16 April, detailing the shocking interrogation tactics used on detainees, and President Obama’s call for transparency and accountability, Lord Justice Thomas said today that he was ‘baffled’ as to what objections the new administration might have to publishing the paragraphs.

Geoffrey Robertson QC, acting for Index on Censorship, Associated Press, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, is also seeking the release of the 33-page closed judgment which considers 42 documents outlining Binyam Mohamed’s treatment while in custody in Pakistan. The hearing today raised profound and troubling questions about the manner in which the Foreign Office has conducted the case and the ambiguity of the arguments it has employed to keep the full story about Binyam Mohamed’s treatment out of the public domain.

By Jo Glanville

Jo Glanville is editor of Looking for an enemy: eight essays on antisemitism (Short Books) and Qissat: short stories by Palestinian women (Telegram/Saqi Books). She is a former editor of Index on Censorship.