British court orders release of U.S. intelligence details on torture allegations
A British court ruled Friday that the country should release U.S. intelligence information on the alleged torture of a man held in several overseas prisons, despite concerns it could harm intelligence-sharing with the United States.
Lord Justice John Thomas and Justice David Lloyd Jones want to disclose seven redacted paragraphs from an earlier ruling on the treatment of an Ethiopian man who moved to Britain as a teenager, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and held by U.S. officials in Afghanistan, Morocco and Guantanamo Bay.
Binyam Mohamed alleges he was tortured by Pakistani intelligence officials in overseas prisons, but that British officials were complicit in his treatment. He told the BBC: “There is information in there, I’m 99 percent sure, which states that the U.S. sub-contracted the UK government to do its dirty work.”
Foreign Secretary David Miliband says he is “deeply disappointed” by the ruling and will appeal the High Court’s decision “in the strongest possible terms.”
“We have welcomed the changes in counter terrorism strategy that President Obama has made since coming to office, but we are clear that what has remained unchanged is the degree of protection the US expects others to give its intelligence,” Miliband said in a written statement. “The US will not prejudice its own intelligence if it perceives that this intelligence may be disclosed at the order of a foreign court or otherwise. It remains my assessment that the consequence of the Court’s judgment today, if left unchallenged, will be a restriction on what is shared with us.”
The Associated Press reports that U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said U.S. officials concurred with Miliband’s concerns.
“We both have a stake in ensuring that this kind of intelligence sharing continues to the fullest extent possible,” Kelly said.
The British judges, however, found that there the risk to national security, “is not a serious one” and that public interest in the redacted paragraphs is “overwhelming.”
“The suppression of reports of wrongdoing by officials in circumstances which cannot in any way affect national security is inimical to the rule of law,” Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones ruled. “Championing the rule of law, not subordinating it, is the cornerstone of democracy.”
No information will be released until after the British government’s appeal has been heard.