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UK attorney general to investigate Guantanamo detainee torture claims

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has asked Attorney General Baroness Scotland [official websites] to begin a criminal investigation into claims that both British and US officers contributed to the torture of Guantanamo Bay detainee and former UK resident Binyam Mohamed [Reprieve profile; JURIST news archive], according to a government letter [Reprieve release] released Thursday. Smith also provided Scotland with evidence relating to Mohamed's claims [JURIST report] that CIA and MI5 [official websites] agents involved in his detention and rendition to Morocco were complicit in the abuse he allegedly suffered while being interrogated there. The High Court in London ruled [judgment, PDF; JURIST report] in August that the evidence should be released because it was "essential" to Mohamed's defense that information against him was obtained through torture, but Foreign Secretary David Miliband later refused [JURIST report] the court's order. Rights group Reprieve [advocacy website] praised Smith's release of the evidence, and called on Scotland to bring criminal charges against those responsible for Mohamed's alleged abuse. The Independent has more. The Guardian has additional coverage.

Also Thursday, US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the US Department of Justice [official website] to provide Mohamed's lawyers with whatever evidence it had regarding his alleged abuse. US prosecutors earlier this month dismissed without prejudice charges they had brought against Mohamed claiming that he was involved in a plan to detonate a dirty bomb [JURIST reports], but said that they are considering whether or not to recharge him with other crimes. Sullivan, who is overseeing a lawsuit Mohammed has brought against the government, said the move was suspicious and questioned the validity of the evidence against him. The New York Times has more.

Mohamed asserts that after he was arrested in Pakistan, he was turned over to US officials who then transferred him to Moroccan agents who tortured him; he was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2004. In December, in a letter [DOC, text] sent by his lawyer to Miliband, he asked the UK government [JURIST report] to ensure that photographic evidence of his alleged torture be preserved. For most of 2007, Binyam was one of five UK residents detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. Three of those were released [DOD press release; JURIST report] from US custody in December. The official status of a fourth detainee remains unclear.

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