British police will investigate claims that a former Guantanamo detainee was tortured with the complicity of the British government, the country’s attorney general announced Thursday.
Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed says he was tortured into falsely confessing to terrorist activities while in U.S. custody in Morocco. Mohamed alleges that an officer from British intelligence agency MI5 supplied questions to his interrogators when he was held and tortured at a secret site in Morocco. He says he was then taken to Afghanistan and then to the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2004. He was released to the United Kingdom a month ago. “I have been through an experience that I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares,” he said in a statement when he was released. “Before this ordeal, ‘torture’ was an abstract word to me. I could never have imagined that I would be its victim.” Mohamed said was not asking for vengeance, but “only that the truth should be made known, so that nobody in the future should have to endure what I have endured.” The announcement of the investigation comes after a five-month inquiry by Attorney General Patricia Scotland. “The appropriate course of action is to invite the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police to commence an investigation into the allegations that have been made in relation to Binyam Mohamed,” she told Parliament on Thursday. Mohamed, who was originally seized in Pakistan in 2002 on suspicion of terrorism, was freed in a deal between the British and U.S. governments, the UK Foreign Office said.
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The United States charged him last year with allegedly plotting to blow up apartment buildings in America with radioactive “dirty bombs.” But all formal charges were dropped against him and four other detainees last October. Mohamed subsequently went on hunger strike to protest his imprisonment. Mohamed was the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be released after U.S. President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the detention facility at a U.S. naval base within a year, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement. Synonymous with the Bush administration’s harsh anti-terror policy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States, Guantanamo has been mired in claims of prisoner abuse. The British government appealed in August 2007 for the release and return of its legal citizens, but struck a deal to secure Mohamed’s freedom. Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said there is no guarantee former London resident Mohamed will be allowed to take up permanent residency in the UK.