British Court Believes Terror Suspect’s Claim

August 23rd, 2008 - by admin

Raymond Bonner / New York Times – 2008-08-23 01:19:49

LONDON (August 22, 2008) — A British court this week said that a terror suspect being held at Guantanamo Bay had a credible argument that the United States had illegally spirited him away to Morocco and that he was tortured there.

The United States has repeatedly rejected allegations by the suspect, Binyam Mohamed, that he had been sent away and tortured, most recently in a letter to the British government last month. But the British court described the American conclusion as “untenable.”

It did not discuss the evidence it had seen, but said there was “no good reason” the US government had refused to turn over materials to Mohamed’s lawyers that might help him prove his allegations before an American military tribunal. Because the US government would not turn over the information, the British government had an obligation to turn over potentially exculpatory material in its files, the court ruled.

In its 76-page opinion, the court also revealed portions of a highly classified interrogation of Mohamed by British intelligence that sheds new light on an alleged plot to explode a so-called dirty bomb in the United States.

Mohamed, 30, an Ethiopian who was a British resident before his arrest, told British intelligent agents in April 2002 that he had seen instructions on a Web site on how to make a bomb. “Part of the instructions included adding bleach to uranium 238 in a bucket and rotating it around one’s head for 45 minutes,” Mohamed told the agents, according the court’s judgment. Mohamed said he had concluded that the instructions were a joke.

Mohamed faces a trial by an American military commission on several charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, including the detonation of a dirty bomb — a conventional bomb that releases radioactive material.

The court issued two judgments Monday, one public and one classified. Large sections of the British intelligence reports were redacted from the public opinion.

Mohamed’s case has been a matter of considerable tension between Britain and the United States, and the court Monday rebuked the Bush administration for not cooperating with the British government, or with the judicial inquiry into his case, as well as for its treatment of Mohamed.

The court said the British Foreign Office, acting on the court’s behalf, had in June asked the U.S. Defense and State departments for information needed for the inquiry.

“It is a matter of considerable regret that no response was received, despite our reiterating our request in the course of the hearing,” the justices said.

Mohamed was seized by authorities in Pakistan in April 2002, trying to leave the country with a false British passport. He was turned over to the Americans.

Mohamed has said he was held in Morocco, a point that the British Foreign Office does not challenge and the court seemed to accept in Monday’s ruling. He has also alleged that he was badly tortured, including being cut on his chest and genitals with a razor.

The United States has told the British Foreign Office that there was no evidence to support these allegations, and that he was in good health when he arrived at Guantanamo, in late 2004.

© 2008 The New York Times.

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