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UK court gives government one week to seek release of US 'torture' intelligence

[JURIST] A London High Court [official website] judge said Wednesday that the court will issue an order for the release of classified US intelligence relating to the detention of Binyam Mohamed [Reprieve profile; JURIST news archive] if the UK government does not request the information within seven days. Lord Justice John Thomas said [McClatchy report] that UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband [official profile] should have requested that the US release classified information regarding Mohamed's treatment in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] and Morocco after US President Barack Obama [official profile] took office, noting that Obama's recent release [JURIST report] of CIA interrogation memos made it "self-evident" that Obama's torture and detention policy differs from that of the Bush administration. Lawyers for Mohamed applauded [press release] the court's position, calling for the British and US governments to unambiguously explain whether any security threats exist by declassifying the information.

Mohamed asked the High Court to reconsider the publication of a number of paragraphs from a summary describing the conditions and circumstances of his imprisonment that were redacted from the High Court's August 2008 ruling [JURIST report] that the UK Foreign Office must turn over evidence essential to Mohamed's defense. Mohamed's lawyers have claimed that the redacted information has also been withheld from Obama [JURIST report]. The court found in February that US authorities threatened to alter or suspend intelligence sharing operations if the information were released, a claim that Miliband immediately denied [JURIST reports]. The court agreed to reopen the case after Mohamed's lawyers challenged the order that the torture evidence remain classified. In March, UK government's independent reviewer of terror laws called for a judicial inquiry into British complicity in US rendition and torture, and UK Attorney General Janet Scotland announced a police investigation [JURIST reports] into claims that an agent of the country's MI5 [official website] intelligence service took part in the allegedly abusive interrogation of Mohamed. Mohamed asserts that after he was arrested in Pakistan and turned over to US officials, he was then transferred to Moroccan agents who tortured him. He was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2004, and was returned to the UK [JURIST report] in February following seven years of detention.

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