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Further Court ruling on attempted suppression of US abuse details

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19 November 2009

Today, in their sixth judgment, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones rejected a further attempt by the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband to resist publication of details of US abuse of Binyam Mohamed whist he was in US custody in Pakistan.

On 16 October this year the Court, in its fifth judgment decided to restore seven paragraphs omitted from its original judgment delivered last summer. These paragraphs detail the serious abuse carried out by the CIA. The UK authorities have resisted publication of these paragraphs on the basis that their disclosure by the Court would undermine the US/UK security relationship to such an extent that there would be a real risk to British lives, although it has been made clear by the judges that the seven paragraphs contain nothing of a sensitive intelligence nature.

The Government objected to passages in that fifth judgment, again on grounds of national security, and indicated an intention to appeal the decision to restore the original seven paragraphs, to the Court of Appeal.

In its sixth judgment today, the Court rejects the argument that the passages in the fifth judgment (which now amount to four paragraphs) should be redacted on grounds of national security. Because the Government has appealed against the fifth (and also the sixth) judgments, the disputed paragraphs have not been included in the copies hand down by the Court. They have, however, provided a gist of what the four paragraphs contain.

The Court has made it clear that the passages which the Government is insisting should be removed from the fifth judgment are all material which is already in the public domain. It is extraordinary that the Government is prepared to go to the Court of Appeal to seek to conceal such material.

The Foreign Secretary’s appeal will be heard in the Court of Appeal on 14, 15 & 16 December.

Richard Stein, Partner from Leigh Day & Co acting for Binyam Mohamed said:

“This extremely confusing series of events should not be allowed to obscure what is a very important issue. Our Government is attempting to stop the Courts from publishing to the world details of seriously abusive treatment of Binyam Mohamed by the CIA. They attempt to justify this on the basis that disclosure would undermine US/UK security cooperation, even though the material being withheld has no intelligence sensitivity. It is already public that the CIA has admitted that it mistreated Binyam Mohamed in a way which arguably amounted either to torture or to cruel inhuman and degrading treatment. It has also been made public that MI5 was informed by the CIA of the details of the abuse before it sent its agent to interrogate Binyam Mohamed in Pakistan, where he was being illegally detained. The only information which the Government is still determined to hide is the precise techniques of torture and abuse which the CIA has admitted that it used on Binyam Mohamed. We hope that the Court of Appeal will agree that such information cannot properly be described by any democracy as “secret intelligence”, and that it ought, without any further delay, to be included in the Court’s public judgments."

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Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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