Tue, Aug 04, 2009 - Page 6 News List

London’s alleged torture collusion reaches courts

‘ALL MEANS POSSIBLE’ Human Rights Watch says that UK intelligence was fully aware that British citizens were tortured while detained in Pakistan

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Allegations that the UK’s intelligence agencies have colluded in the torture of British citizens during counter-terrorism investigations abroad have reached European courts.

In what is expected to be first of a series of applications to the European court of human rights, lawyers representing Salahuddin Amin argue that he was tortured and denied the right to a fair trial.

The same legal team has also lodged proceedings on behalf of Amin at the high court in London, suing the director generals of MI5 and MI6, the UK Home Office, the Foreign Office and the attorney general.

Amin, 34, from Luton, Bedfordshire, was questioned 11 times by MI5 officers during the 10 months he spent in the unlawful detention of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), who had detained him at the request of London.

After his eventual deportation to the UK, he and four other men were convicted of conspiring to mount an al-Qaeda-inspired bomb attack.

All five are serving life sentences and were refused permission to appeal to the House of Lords.

Amin says he was beaten, whipped, deprived of sleep and threatened with an electric drill while being asked questions that were subsequently put to him again during non-violent interviews by two MI5 officers. Before Amin went on trial, the judge ruled that his conditions in ISI custody had been “physically oppressive” but that he had exaggerated his mistreatment and that it fell short of torture.

Since then, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based NGO, has spoken to a number of Pakistani intelligence officers who they say corroborated the accounts of torture given by several British citizens alleging UK complicity.

In the case of Amin, HRW quotes the Pakistani sources as saying his account was “essentially accurate,” adding that it was a “high-pressure” case and the desire for information on the part of both British and US authorities was “insatiable.”

HRW add that their sources say British intelligence officials were “perfectly aware that we were using all means possible to extract information from him and were grateful that we were doing so.”

Since Amin’s deportation, a number of other British men have made similar allegations about being questioned by British intelligence officials after being tortured by Pakistani agents.

In one case, the extent of MI5’s involvement in the torture of a prisoner from Rochdale was concealed until David Davis, the Conservatives’ former home affairs spokesman, used the protection of parliamentary privilege to detail the way in which his brutal mistreatment in Pakistan had been effectively sub-contracted to the ISI.

The UK government has repeatedly denied that it has solicited or encouraged torture and maintains that intelligence officers do not commit acts they know will result in torture.

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