“Human Cargo”: report details rendition and torture of Guantánamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed

11.6.08

Binyam MohamedYesterday, Reprieve, the legal action charity that represents over 30 prisoners in Guantánamo, issued a detailed and devastating report, Human Cargo: Binyam Mohamed and the Rendition Frequent Flier Programme, which presents compelling evidence of the rendition and torture of one of its clients, the British resident Binyam Mohamed.

Binyam’s horrific story has been in the public domain since 2005, when his lawyers first revealed his account of his 18-month torture in Morocco at the hands of proxy torturers working on behalf of the US, but the US administration has never seen fit to investigate the allegations.

Reprieve is submitting a more detailed version of the report to Representative Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), who is campaigning assiduously to uncover the truth about the administration’s “extraordinary rendition” policies, but is making a version of the report available to the public in an attempt to expose the extraordinary cover-up that has been taking place for years regarding Binyam’s renditions and the horrendous torture to which he was subjected, not only in Morocco, but also in the “Dark Prison,” a secret CIA-run prison near Kabul.

There is an urgency to this mission, as Binyam has just been put forward for trial by Military Commission, on long-discredited charges of plotting to detonate a “dirty bomb” in a US city, and there is a limited window of opportunity for Susan Crawford, the retired judge and associate of Vice president Dick Cheney, who is the Commissions’ “convening authority,” to proceed with the charges, or, as Reprieve hopes, to be persuaded to drop them, to prevent the full horror story from emerging in a trial at Guantánamo to embarrass both the American and the British governments.

In the report, Reprieve calls for a “full and open Congressional investigation into the crimes that have been committed against Binyam Mohamed,” and demands that the US administration “turn over all evidence of Binyam’s torture in Morocco, Afghanistan and Guantánamo to his lawyers, including photographs of his injuries,” which are known to be in the possession of the authorities, “interrogation logs and any other relevant material.” The organization, which recently filed a lawsuit seeking the release of relevant information that is held by the British government relating to its stated knowledge of Binyam’s rendition from Pakistan to Morocco, and its provision of materials relating to Binyam’s life in London that was used by his Moroccan torturers, also reiterates its call for British officials to provide “all information in their files about their involvement in the rendition and torture of Binyam Mohamed,” and also calls for a “full and public enquiry into British collusion in this process.”

The report not only revisits Binyam’s torture testimony, but also provides detailed analysis of the rendition flights that transported him around the world, and (in the full version) the identities of the CIA operatives and private contractors who undertook these grisly missions. In this it overlaps with the story of Khalid El-Masri, the innocent German who was seized by mistake in Macedonia (because his name resembles that of a man who reportedly aided the 9/11 hijackers) and rendered to the “Dark Prison,” until the CIA realized that it had made a mistake, when he was flown to Albania and abandoned. This week, El-Masri and his lawyers in Germany announced that they were suing the German government “to force it to issue extradition orders against 13 American intelligence agents involved” in his rendition to torture.

The difference, of course, is that Khaled El-Masri is no longer a prisoner in the “War on Terror” — although he continues to suffer enormously as a result of his horrific ordeal — whereas Binyam has now been held for over six years, and faces a trial in a system that is so legally deficient that it was described by Lord Steyn, one of Britain’s senior law lords (now retired), as nothing less than a “kangaroo court.”

Andy is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed, and see here for my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009.

As published on Indymedia.

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