Judges reject Government attempt to suppress information about the torture of Binyam Mohamed

October 16, 2009

In a great victory for press freedom and open democracy, the High Court today ruled that seven key paragraphs of their judgment in the Binyam Mohamed case, which the Foreign Secretary David Miliband sought to suppress, must be reinstated and released to the public.

The judges were scathing of the Foreign Secretary’s view that the paragraphs endanger national security, and even hint at what they may be about: “…it cannot be suggested that information as to how officials of the US Government admitted treating BM during his interrogation is information that can in any democratic society governed by the rule of law be characterised as ‘secret’ or as ‘intelligence’.”

The judges also disputed the significance of the US government’s position: “…the statement made by Secretary of State Clinton that intelligence sharing would be affected was made without a proper analysis or understanding of what the seven paragraphs contain.”

The judges finally decide that the Foreign Secretary is flat wrong in his assessment of the threat to national security from the Obama Administration: “the evidence simply does not sustain the Foreign Secretary’s opinion that there is a serious risk”.

They also express frustration that even their reasoning in today’s judgment has also been partly redacted, or suppressed, at the request of the Foreign Secretary. This matter will be decided at a later date. The seven paragraphs will also remain suppressed for now, while the Foreign Secretary appeals the Court’s decision.

The full judgment is attached below.

Clive Stafford Smith, Director of Reprieve, said:

“Last night Jonathan Evans, the Director General of the Security Services, said that the only thing that ‘precludes full public discussion of the allegations’ of torture in Binyam Mohamed’s case was the on-going litigation. Today, the Security Services insisted that the High Court cover up the documentary proof of those allegations. It would be kind to say that this is disingenuous.”

“The judges have made clear what we have said all along — it is irrational to pretend that evidence of torture should be classified as a threat to national security. Rather, it is proof of a crime committed against Binyam Mohamed, and as such it should be fully aired in a court of law. All along, the government has been trying to conflate national security with national embarrassment, nothing more, nothing less.”

For more information please contact Katherine O’Shea at Reprieve’s Press Office katherine.oshea@reprieve.org.uk 020 7427 1099/ 07931592674.

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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