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US court slams US government's attempts to avoid disclosing evidence of torture

Binyam Mohamed

31 October 2008

Further developments in the case of Binyam Mohamed which was yesterday referred to the Attorney General for criminal investigation: overnight in the United States, Judge Emmet G Sullivan of the Washington Federal Court slammed the US Government for attempting to avoid disclosing evidence of torture.

On 22 September the Judge ordered the US Government to hand over exculpatory evidence that would help British resident Binyam Mohamed, currently detained in Guantanamo Bay, challenge his detention and defeat allegations of terrorism. However, in a cynical attempt to evade the Judge’s order, the US Government dropped an allegation, at the heart of its case against Mr Mohamed, that he was involved in a dirty bomb plot. In purported compliance with Judge Sullivan’s order they made only seven documents available to Mr Mohamed’s defence lawyers.

In parallel proceedings brought by Leigh Day & Co in the UK, the High Court had found that 42 documents held by British secret services would potentially corroborate Mr Mohamed’s account that he was tortured into confessing terrorist activity. The High Court held that those 42 documents were essential to his defence. The only bar to the immediate release of those documents to Mr Mohamed’s lawyers was the fact that the US were threatening to cut its intelligence sharing relationship with the UK if the English Court ordered disclosure.

All seven documents released by the US authorities were drawn from the 42 documents held by British secret services and identified by the UK High Court. No other documents or evidence relating to the 2 ½ years Mr Mohamed was held in incommunicado detention were released.

However, the UK Court persisted and in a striking example of judicial ‘comity’, directed that the US Judge be kept informed of the position in the UK proceedings.

On the eve of yesterday’s hearing and realising that the game was up in the face of the concerted efforts of the judiciaries of both the US and the UK, the US Government finally disclosed the remainder of the 42 British documents.

However, they still declined to disclose any other documentation or evidence as to what happened to Mr Mohamed in the missing 2 ½ years. Judge Sullivan was scathing in his criticism of the US Government’s cynical attempts to manipulate the US proceedings to avoid disclosing evidence of the alleged torture of Mr Mohamed.

He sent the US Government away, ordering them to provide proper disclosure and to return to Court on 14 November.

For more information please contact Jamie Beagent on 020 7650 1200.

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

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

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