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UK court allows appeal of terrorism charges based on torture claims

A London appeals court on Wednesday granted convicted terrorist Rangzieb Ahmed the right to appeal his conviction [JURIST report] based on his claims of torture and recent reports of UK complicity in torture. Ahmed was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2008 on charges of directing terrorism under the UK's Terrorism Act of 2006 [text, PDF]. The trial court found that he was a high-level al Qaeda member with ties to some of the organization's leaders. He was convicted of setting up a terrorist cell [BBC report] in Manchester, and he boasted of meeting Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man accused of planning the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archives]. Ahmed alleges that he was beaten and tortured [BBC report] by members of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence and then questioned by representatives of MI5 and MI6 [official websites], making the UK government complicit in his torture. Ahmed's counsel argued that he should be given the right to appeal based on the government's complicity in his torture. Ahmed was held for 13 months in Pakistan before being deported to the UK to stand trial.

The court's decision comes two days after the British government indicated it will issue a new set of guidelines [JURIST report] regarding the use of information obtained via torture. The announcement came as part of the government's defense against a lawsuit filed by the human rights group Reprieve [advocacy website], which has been seeking a review of the country's torture policy. Similar claims of complicity were made against the government by a new report [materials] released Monday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. Last month, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary William Hague [official profile] said that the UK will launch an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that overseas UK operatives were complicit in torture. Hague stated that the new coalition government will initiate a judge-led inquiry into the allegations, but no details were outlined in the legislative program [text, PDF] published by Prime Minister David Cameron [official profile].

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