Torture cover-up continues: British government refuses to name the source of a letter claiming to represent the views of President Obama on Binyam Mohamed case

June 1, 2009

Image of a man standing outside of a prison gate with the sun setting behind him

The British government today used a letter from an ‘unnamed official‘ in the Obama Administration to justify suppressing details of the torture of former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Binyam Mohamed.

The letter, the court was told, proves that President Obama’s view on the matter is the same as the Bush Administration, and that intelligence sharing with Britain would be severely affected should details of Mr Mohamed’s treatment be revealed.

However, the Foreign Office refused to disclose who the letter was from, or to whom it was written. The contents of the letter were also heavily redacted, and the Foreign Office refused to explain why, stating that their reasons for secrecy must also remain suppressed.

“This official secrecy is becoming increasingly ridiculous, and way out of line with what the public expects from their democratically elected government,” said Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith. “The British people rightly expect to be able hold their government accountable for any wrongdoing, and this deliberate secrecy is preventing them from doing that. If this letter truly represents the view of the Obama Administration, why not reveal the author? Why are both governments so afraid of basic transparency in this matter?”

Foreign Secretary David Miliband continues to oppose disclosing any documents that may reveal the extent of UK government complicity in Mr Mohamed’s treatment. Another hearing, at which the judges will decide the matter, is expected in approximately one month’s time.

For more information please contact Reprieve’s Press Office  .

 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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