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UK prosecutor not charging intelligence officer over torture allegations

A British intelligence officer accused of torturing a Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee will not be charged due to a lack of evidence, the country's public prosecutor announced on Wednesday. The MI5 [official website] officer was allegedly complicit in the abuse of Binyam Mohamed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], causing him to falsely admit to terrorism charges. The US dropped all charges against Mohamed in 2008, and he was returned [JURIST reports] to Britain in 2009, after spending nearly seven years in detention, including four years at Guantanamo Bay. The prosecutor said investigations will continue of people higher up in the chain of command as well as MI6 [official website] officers. Earlier this week, the UK agreed to pay 16 former Guantanamo detainees, including Mohamed, a settlement [JURIST report] over claims that its agents colluded in torture abroad. The UK said that the settlement was not an admission of guilt.

The England and Wales Court of Appeal [official website] ruled [judgment text] in May that state intelligence agencies cannot use secret evidence [JURIST report] in their defense against abuse accusations by Mohamed and several other UK residents who were held at Guantanamo Bay. The judgment overturned a November ruling [judgment text; JURIST report] of a UK high court, which held that defendants MI5 and MI6 could utilize a "closed material procedure" that would allow them to rely on certain evidence without disclosing it to opposing counsel or committing it to the public record. The procedure, typically employed in criminal proceedings, is designed to allow concealment of evidence where disclosure would cause "real harm to the public interest," harm the agencies argued would result if they were compelled to publicly adduce state intelligence as part of their defense.

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