Reprieve welcomes the decision by the Attorney General to refer allegations of collusion in Binyam Mohamed’s torture to the Metropolitan Police

March 26, 2009

Image of Binyam Mohammed

Reprieve is delighted by the Attorney General’s announcement that she has referred Binyam Mohamed’s case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

It is right that such a serious case should be referred to the DPP, so that the police can investigate and the DPP can decide if prosecution is appropriate.

However, Reprieve is concerned that the investigation have proper scope and access to classified evidence. We are also concerned that US personnel face justice.

Furthermore, this does not erase the need for an independent inquiry into the government’s systematic conduct in the ‘War on Terror’, which would cover the question of extraordinary rendition.

1) Take it to the top

  • The police investigation must have proper scope. This must not simply be a witch-hunt of the specific agent in question.
  • Although ‘Agent B’ and his direct superiors committed illegal acts, the real question must be how far up the line the authorisation went, both in the UK and the USA.
  • The person at the top of the relevant chain of command must be held accountable.

2) Access to evidence

  • The investigation will need access to classified documents – at the very least, the documents referred to by the British court which detail correspondence between the US and UK intelligence services.
  • These are vital for any prosecution to establish the requisite knowledge on the part of the UK intelligence services.
  • The documents also include lists of questions the UK intelligence services sent to the CIA to be put to Binyam Mohamed after they knew that he had vanished from the jail in Pakistan.
  • Reprieve stands ready to co-operate fully with the police investigation, and can provide some very useful documents relating to Binyam’s case.

3) US extradition

  • If US personnel are found to be involved in these war crimes, they should be extradited to the UK for prosecution, as it is they will clearly not be held accountable in the US.
  • This is an illustration of the weakness of our US Extradition Treaty – we are allowing Gary McKinnon to be extradited to the US for hacking into the Pentagon looking for UFOs, but it is unlikely that the same treaty will allow US personnel guilty of war crimes to be extradited to the UK.

4) Independent review needed

  • There remains an urgent need for an independent review of the government’s conduct in the ‘War on Terror’.
  • Investigating this individual case will not answer the question of whether the government has been involved in the systemic rendition and abuse of prisoners.

Both Parliament and the public have been misled – first on whether Diego Garcia was used to enable rendition and secondly on whether British forces were involved in the rendition of prisoners from Afghanistan to Iraq.

An independent inquiry will bring this into the open and restore confidence in this government.

Zachary Katznelson, Legal Director of Reprieve, said:

“The key to any successful police inquiry is whether or not they have access to all the documents, including secret documents. Without full access, the police will be seeing only one tiny piece of this ugly mosaic of torture. The police also must get in touch with Binyam’s lawyers at Reprieve – just one look at our documents will be enough to convince anyone that criminal acts have taken place.”

Binyam Mohamed said today: “I am very pleased that an investigation is taking place. I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t scapegoat the little people. We certainly shouldn’t blame ‘Witness B’ – he was only following orders.”

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact Clive Stafford Smith (07940 347125; clivess@mac.com); or Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office on 020 7427 1099.

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.’

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