By Mary Ostberg, HLS 2012 NSJ Staff Writer
On Friday, October 16, 2009, the United Kingdom’s High Court ruled that seven paragraphs of UK-U.S. exchanges detailing the alleged torture of Binyam Mohamed should be disclosed. In reversing its 2008 ruling, the High Court called the public interest in disclosing the paragraphs “overwhelming.”
Mr. Mohamed, a British resident who was born in Ethiopia, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 for using a false passport. After his arrest, Mr. Mohamed was taken to Morocco and then to Afghanistan. In 2004, Mr. Mohamed was brought to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. Then-Attorney General John Ashcroft stated that Mr. Mohamed had been involved in Jose Padilla’s plot to detonate a “dirty bomb” in the United States, but by the end of 2008 all of these charges had been dropped. In February of this year, Mr. Mohamed was released from Guantánamo and flown to Britain on the grounds that he was a legal resident of Britain prior to 2001, when he left for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mr. Mohamed claims that the CIA was responsible for transferring him to Morocco and that both the CIA and MI5 (Britain’s domestic security service) were complicit in the torture he received while detained in Pakistan and Morocco. Neither the United States nor the UK have taken responsibility for Mr. Mohamed’s transfer to Morocco and U.S. officials have consistently denied sending terror suspects to countries with track records of torture.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband immediately expressed his intention to appeal the High Court’s ruling, stating that he was “deeply disappointed” by the judgment and is concerned about its affect on future U.S.-UK intelligence sharing. U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said he supported Britain’s decision to appeal and emphasized the importance of continuing “this kind of intelligence sharing.”