Binyam Mohamed ruling: Judges will re-consider public disclosure of UK complicity in torture

May 8, 2009

Image of Binyam Mohammed

The High Court has announced that it will re-open its original judgment that details of the torture of former Guantánamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed should remain secret in the interests of national security.

In February the High Court refused the application of Mr Mohamed and a coalition of media organisations seeking public disclosure of details of his ill-treatment at the hands of the CIA and Pakistani intelligence services. The Court had already found that the British Security Services had colluded in his illegal treatment. After the Foreign Secretary informed the Court that US had threatened to down-grade intelligence sharing with the UK if details were made public, the Court judged that it had no choice but to refrain from publishing details.

However after judgment was delivered, David Miliband immediately went on public record to deny that the statements made by the US Government constituted a threat. It also transpired that no-one had even asked the new Obama administration whether it took the same view as its Bush predecessor.

Mr Mohamed, represented by Leigh Day & Co and Reprieve, and backed by a coalition of media organisations, immediately applied to the Court to re-open its judgment on the basis that the Court, deliberately or otherwise, had been misled as to the consequences of disclosing details of the criminal acts against Mr Mohamed.

Despite repeated requests, Mr Miliband refused to clarify the situation and following oral argument at a hearing on 22 April, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones have now announced that they will re-open their judgment. They will publish full reasons for their decision shortly.

Mr Miliband is to be given a final opportunity to present evidence to the Court of the true situation if he wishes to continue to seek to suppress the details of Mr Mohamed’s treatment. The Court will then reconsider the question of whether it will publish those details. It is anticipated that the issue will finally be determined in June.

Clive Stafford Smith, Director, of Reprieve, said: “It is long past time that this evidence was made public. How can it be that two governments that purport to uphold the rule of law be working together to cover up crimes committed against Binyam Mohamed?”

Richard Stein of Leigh Day & Co commented: “This decision is good news for open justice. The Judges have shown that they will not be fobbed off by political or diplomatic spin. If David Miliband continues to try and suppress the embarrassing details of British involvement in Binyam’s torture he will now have to present proper evidence to the Court to back up his arguments.”


Notes 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 Guantánamo 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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