UK spy agencies argue for torture trial behind closed doors

Binyam Mohamed

Binyam Mohamed

The two primary intelligence agencies in the British Isles have argued that any evidence presented in a lawsuit accusing them of torture should remain secret. The request, which is unprecedented in British legal history, was made on Monday before Britain’s High Court by MI5, MI6, as well as by a number of government ministers. The court case in point centers on a lawsuit filed jointly by seven British citizens or residents, all of whom were held in the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp and claim they were tortured by the CIA with British complicity. The seven are Moazzam Begg, Bisher Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Martin Mubanga, and Binyam Mohamed, whose case is perhaps the most well known. Last February, two British judges overseeing Mr. Mohamed’s case revealed that the British government kept “powerful evidence” secret after being threatened by the US that it would “stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK”. In July, it emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally threatened the British government that Washington would stop collaborating with London on intelligence matters if evidence in Mr. Mohamed’s case was publicly released. Lawyers for the plaintiffs said that the US threats still stand and are behind Monday’s request by MI5 and MI6. British media note that if the request is granted, it will “make legal history because, while sometimes allowed in criminal cases, secret evidence has never been permitted in a civil action” in Britain.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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