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UK police to investigate claims intelligence service engaged in torture

[JURIST] UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband [official profile] announced [press release] Friday that the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) [official website] has referred allegations of torture by its officers to Attorney General Patricia Scotland [official profile] and the Metropolitan Police [official website] for investigation. In an open letter to Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague [official website], Miliband called the "scope and handling" of the investigation "a matter for the police" and noted that the SIS acted "on its own initiative, unprompted by any accusation against the Service or the individual concerned." Hague had written Miliband and Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website] last month, asking [letter text] whether the government intended to investigate allegations that agents from SIS, commonly called MI6, and its domestic counterpart participated in the torture of detainees in Egypt, Pakistan, and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].

Hague's letter came in response to a report [text] published in August by the UK Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights [official website] calling for an independent inquiry [JURIST report] into allegations regarding government complicity in the torture of UK terrorism suspects. Miliband, joined by Home Secretary Alan Johnson [official profile] and MI6 Chief John Scarlett, denied the allegations [JURIST report], saying that the UK does not participate in or condone the use of torture. Allegations in the report include the complicity in torture of UK resident Binyam Mohamed [Reprieve profile; JURIST news archive] before he was brought to Guantanamo Bay. In July, the UK Metropolitan Police Service announced that it was investigating the alleged mistreatment [JURIST report] of Mohamed by intelligence officers. Mohamed claims that he was tortured by Pakistani agents and interrogated by FBI and MI5 agents complicit in his abuse. He was transferred to Morocco, allegedly part of the CIA's extraordinary rendition [JURIST news archive] program, where he claims that British agents supplied his torturers with questions.

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