UK security head denies torture collaboration

[JURIST] The head of the UK intelligence service MI5 [official website] on Friday denied [press release] accusations that it had collaborated with the US over the alleged torture of former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Binyam Mohamed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Director General Jonathan Evans [official profile] made the comments in response to criticisms [Guardian report] by Lord David Neuberger that the organization did not respect human rights, that it misled parliament, and that is supported a culture of suppression. Evans admitted that MI5 had made mistakes in the past but emphasized that the organization does not condone torture:


One shortfall [the Intelligence and Security Committee] highlighted in 2005 and again in 2007 was that the British intelligence community was slow to detect the emerging pattern of US mistreatment of detainees after September 11, a criticism that I accept. But there wasn’t any similar change of practice by the British intelligence agencies. We did not practise mistreatment or torture then and do not do so now, nor do we collude in torture or encourage others to torture on our behalf.

Neuberger's comments were made public following a ruling [judgment text; JURIST report] by the England and Wales Court of Appeal [official website] on Wednesday that held the government must disclose seven previously withheld paragraphs of a report outlining the alleged torture of Mohamed. The ruling ended the long-running legal battle to keep the information classified. In December, British government lawyers argued that two UK High Court judges acted irresponsibly when they ruled that the details of the detention must be released [JURIST reports]. This was following an interim ruling [JURIST report] by Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones that redacted the release. Last November, a separate judge on the High Court ruled that, in Mohamed's separate suit for damages, information relating to his treatment at Guantanamo Bay may be withheld [JURIST report] under a "closed material procedure."

 

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