High Court decries US bad faith in the case of Binyam Mohamed, British resident in Guantánamo Bay

October 22, 2008

Image of Binyam Mohammed

Reprieve (the legal action charity) and Leigh Day, who represent British resident Binyam Mohamed, announce that the UK High Court has, in harsh terms, condemned the actions of the US government in its mistreatment of Mr. Mohamed.

The court expresses shock that, weeks after the British government identified 42 documents that would help prove Mr. Mohamed’s innocence, the US has only turned over seven of the documents to his lawyers, each heavily censored in direct violation of the agreement between the two governments.

Mr. Mohamed has alleged a systematic effort to suppress evidence that would prove his innocence, and would prove that he was rendered to torture in Morocco. The court suggests that this may be the case: “We could see no rational basis for the refusal by the US Government to provide the documents” to the lawyers. (para. 4.xi) The court refers to Mr. Mohamed’s allegations as “grave”, and finds that “there is a clear evidential basis for them, and they call for a detailed explanation. (para. 31). Yet, after being given “ample time”, no “explanation has been provided by the Government of the United States.” (para. 32)

The Court recognises the urgency of the issues. “There is the clearest evidence that [Binyam Mohamed] is suffering from a continuing deterioration of his mental health as a result of his detention without trial for over 6½ years.” (para. 2) In the hope that the US Federal Court is able to force the Bush Administration’s hand, the British court has stayed its final decision until after the next federal hearing on October 30th. However, the Court makes it quite clear that if the US prosecutors do not comply with the written Anglo-American agreement at that time, the UK courts will have little option but to order disclosure themselves.

Torture and a ‘litany of misconduct’ 

“The grave concern expressed by the court about the dealings of the Americans in this case are not surprising, given the torture Mr. Mohamed has suffered,” said Richard Stein of Leigh Day. “This underlines the British Government’s duty to do more than gently nudge its ally across the Atlantic when it comes to criminal acts taken against a British resident.”

“The American treatment of Binyam Mohamed has been a litany of misconduct,” said Reprieve director, Clive Stafford Smith. “First they tortured him, then they held him for more than six years without trial, now they want to cover up evidence that could set him free. What is the point of a ‘special relationship’ if the UK Government cannot ensure basic justice for Mr. Mohamed?”

Reprieve has long maintained that the entire case against Mr. Mohamed should be dropped by the US Government, and that he should be returned to the UK, as requested by the British Government in August 2007. Mr. Mohamed is a victim of “extraordinary rendition” and torture. He was sent to Morocco by the CIA on July 21, 2002, where he was tortured for 18 months; he was then rendered to the secret “Dark Prison” in Afghanistan, where his torture continued. As a result, all the supposed ‘evidence’ against him is the fruit of torture, and would be inadmissible in any court other than a US Military Commissions.


For further information, please contact Richard Stein (020 7650 1240); Clive Stafford Smith (07940 347125); Clare Algar at Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099 or clare.algar@reprieve.org.uk; or Sharon Steward (Press Office, Leigh Day, 020 7650 1319/272; ssteward@leighday.co.uk)

Note for Editors:

Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 33 prisoners in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, working on behalf of prisoners facing the death penalty, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

ReprievePO Box 52742London EC4P 4WSTel: 020 7353 4640Fax: 020 7353 4641Email: info@reprieve.org.ukWebsite: www.reprieve.org.uk

Reprieve is a charitable company limited by guarantee; Registered Charity No. 1114900 Registered Company No. 5777831 (England) Registered Office 2-6 Cannon Street London EC4M 6YH; Patrons: Alan Bennett, Martha Lane Fox, Sir John Mortimer, Gordon Roddick, Jon Snow, Marina Warner