Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Briton to sue intelligence services for alleged torture


A British man who was held in Guantanamo Bay has launched a landmark civil action against MI5 (UK home security) and MI6 (UK secret service) over the tactics they use to gather intelligence.

The suit has been brought by Tarek Dergoul, 29, who claims he was repeatedly tortured while he was held by the US, and that British agents who had also questioned him were aware of the mistreatment.

He wants a high court ruling that will ban the security services from "benefiting" from the abuse of prisoners being held in detention outside the UK.

If Dergoul wins it would mean that MI5 and MI6 could not interrogate British nationals while they are being held and tortured abroad. A British citizen, he has been awarded legal aid for the case, and papers were to be lodged at the high court yesterday. Court documents seen by the Guardian show Dergoul claims agents from MI5 and MI6 repeatedly interrogated him while he was held and tortured in Afghanistan and then Guantanamo, and were thus complicit in his treatment.

In the 13-page document to be lodged at court, Dergoul says he suffered beatings, sexual humiliation and insults to his religion and was subjected to extremes of cold.

He was released back to Britain in 2004 without charge.

Britain says it does not carry out or condone torture, but it stands accused of benefiting from inhumane treatment meted out by other countries.

Dergoul, who is seeking damages for "misfeasance in public office" by the security services and the Foreign Office, said he was picked up in Afghanistan in 2001 by local warlords who "sold" him to the US for US$5,000.

He denies involvement in fighting or terrorism and says he went to the region to study Arabic.

The government is expected to fight the court action.

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