UK foreign minister denies court claim that US threatened to withhold intelligence

[JURIST] UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband [official profile] told members of Parliament Thursday that the US did not threaten to withhold intelligence [FCO press release] if a summary of the alleged torture of Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Binyam Mohamed [Reprieve profile; JURIST news archive] was made public. Miliband's statement was in response to a judgment [text, PDF; JURIST report] issued by the London High Court Wednesday, in which Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Lloyd Jones wrote that the US threatened to reconsider or end intelligence-sharing with the UK. Miliband said:

It therefore was – and remains – my judgment that the disclosure of the intelligence documents at issue by order of our courts against the wishes of the US authorities would indeed cause real and significant damage to the national security and international relations of this country. For the record, the United States authorities did not threaten to "break off" intelligence cooperation with the UK. What the United States said, and it appears in the open, public documents of this case, is that the disclosure of these documents by order of our Courts would be "likely to result in serious damage to US national security and could harm existing intelligence information-sharing between our two governments." That’s a simple affirmation of the facts of intelligence cooperation.
Miliband concluded his remarks by saying that there was "no prejudice" to Mohamad's case as a result of Wednesday's judgment.

At issue in Mohamad's case were a number of paragraphs describing the conditions and circumstances of his imprisonment, redacted from the High Court's judgment in its August 2008 ruling [JURIST report] that the UK Foreign Office must turn over evidence essential to Mohamed's defense. Mohamed asserts that after he was arrested in Pakistan and turned over to US officials, he was then transferred to Moroccan agents who tortured him. He was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. In December, he asked the UK government [letter, DOC; JURIST report] to ensure that photographic evidence of his alleged torture be preserved. For most of 2007, Binyam was one of five UK residents detained at Guantanamo Bay. Three of those were released [DOD press release; JURIST report] from US custody in December. The official status of a fourth detainee remains unclear.


 

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