Miliband forced to reveal secret torture evidence in Binyam Mohamed case. Index on Censorship party to key test of open justice
Index on Censorship today hails a major victory for free expression and open justice in the UK, after the Lord Chief Justice dismissed an appeal by David Miliband seeking to conceal evidence of the torture of “war on terror” detainee Binyam Mohamed.
Index was one of several organisations party to the case, demanding the release of the materials.
In a rare ruling against the government, Lord Judge ruled that several paragraphs detailing Mohamed’s treatment in secret jails should be disclosed. The Foreign Office had claimed that revealing the suppressed details of Mohamed’s torture would endanger intelligence sharing with the US and threaten national security.
But the lengthy Court of Appeals judgement stated: “[In] principle, a real risk of serious damage to national security, of whatever degree, should not automatically trump a public interest in open justice…”
The seven redacted paragraphs describe how Mohamed was shackled during interrogation, subjected to sleep deprivation and suffered severe mental stress.
One of the paragraphs the Foreign Office attempted to conceal stated:
“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 of BM by the United States authorities.”
John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship, commented: “The Foreign Office’s secrecy and obfuscation on this vital issue has only heightened the suspicion that Britain’s security services were complicit in the torture of a UK resident. David Miliband must now reveal the extent to which he and the cabinet were aware of this scandal.”
He added: >”National security should not be used as an excuse to censor material that is clearly in the public interest.”
Last December declassified documents revealed that the US district court considered there was credible evidence to suggest that Mohamed was tortured while being held at the request of the US in Morocco and Pakistan .
Judge Gladys Kessler’s opinion states: “Binyam Mohamed’s trauma lasted two long years. During that time, he was physically and psychologically tortured. His genitals were mutilated. He was deprived of sleep and food. He was summarily transported from one foreign prison to another. Captors held him in stress positions for days at a time. He was forced to listen to piercingly loud music and the screams of other prisoners while locked in a pitch-black cell. All the while, he was forced to inculpate himself and others in plots to imperil Americans. The [US] government does not dispute this evidence.”
Read the redacted paragraphs here