Reprieve Announces Legal Action Against British Government

July 28, 2009

Reprieve will today announce via press conference the launch of legal action against the British Government for their role in the illegal rendition to torture of Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni.

PRESS CONFERENCE: 1pm, Tuesday 28th July 2009
Speakers include: Clive Stafford Smith OBE, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni

Seized in Jakarta, Mr Madni was rendered to Egypt, where he suffered 92 days of torture including severe electric shocks, and was then sent to Guantanamo Bay where he was wrongfully held for 6 years.

After no proof of wrongdoing was ever shown against him, he was released last year without charge. He has been seriously disabled — both physically and mentally — by his years in abusive captivity.

The Case:

  • Reprieve has discovered that Mr Madni was almost certainly rendered to torture via the British Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia;
  • Diego Garcia is a British Overseas Territory subject to UK sovereignty but has been made available to the US for certain defence purposes since 1967;
  • The UK government denied Diego Garcia’s involvement in rendition 54 times;
  • In answer to the 55th demand in January 2008, Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted to two cases of illegal rendition via Diego Garcia and was forced to apologise for misleading both Parliament and Reprieve;
  • Mr Miliband has previously blocked Reprieve’s attempts to restore the victims’ legal rights, refusing to admit their identities.

After painstaking investigation, Reprieve has independently discovered the identity of one victim, Mr Madni, and tracked him to Pakistan, to which he had finally been released, and where he is attempting to rebuild his life.

Mr Madni’s lawyers wrote to Mr Miliband on 13 July 2009 setting out Reprieve’s findings and demanding that the Foreign Secretary confirm that Mr Madni was unlawfully transferred through British Territory and provide him with further details of UK knowledge and involvement in his extraordinary rendition and torture. That letter has been ignored.

Mr Madni will now be suing the British government to force it to reveal details of its involvement in his ordeal. Reprieve intend to support Mr Madni in his legal action to ensure that British Territory may never again be used to hide government wrongdoing.

“For too long, Diego Garcia has been used as a secret safe haven for the US and UK,” said Reprieve’s Executive Director Clare Algar. “It is about time this territory was subjected to the scrutiny of the law. Mr Madni’s case is the first step towards restoring the rule of law to Diego Garcia.”

“Rendition is kidnap, pure and simple, and there is a very serious principle at stake here,” said Reprieve Director Clive Stafford Smith. “The British government refuses to admit its involvement in a crime, then refuses to identify the victims and affirmatively block others from trying to reunite them with their legal rights.

“Mr Madni suffers serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of his rendition to torture, yet has never had so much as an apology from his abusers. He is happy finally to be free but wants to launch this action to ensure that no-one is forced to suffer in this way in future.”

-ENDS-

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

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Website: www.reprieve.org.uk

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