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Pakistan ex-president Musharraf says UK gave 'tacit approval' to use of torture

Former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said that the UK gave "tacit approval" for torture of terror suspects, making the statements in a BBC documentary to be aired Monday. Musharraf's claims raise questions [BBC report] over UK's public stance discouraging other countries from torturing UK citizens on its behalf. Musharraf, who was president of Pakistan from 1999-2008 and a key US ally against al Qaeda, told the BBC that he was never informed of the UK's policy discouraging torture and defended the use of torture to fight al Qaeda. But Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of UK intelligence MI5 [official website] at the time, denied that it turned a blind-eye to torture by other countries. Claims that the UK allowed torture by other countries will be investigated by an independent commission set to begin work within the next two months. One of those believed to have been tortured with UK acquiescence was Binyam Mohamed [JURIST news archive], an Ethiopian native who had lived in the UK for eight years. He has claimed he was tortured by US officials at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] with the knowledge of UK security services. He has denied allegations against him and claims he made false admissions under the duress of torture.

Musharraf himself has come under scrutiny during his time as Pakistan president. Last month, an arrest warrant was issued [JURIST report] for Musharraf by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court in connection with the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive]. The court determined Musharraf had not cooperated during the investigation of Bhutto's death, and investigators have alleged that Musharraf did not provide adequate security for Bhutto when she was assassinated during a campaign rally in Pakistan in 2007. Last December, the UK government agreed to settlements [JURIST report] with 16 Guantanamo Bay detainees, including Mohamed, over allegations of torture. Details of the settlement agreement, which are legally bound to a confidentiality agreement, have not been released, although at least seven detainees are expected to receive compensation, with at least one receiving over one million pounds.

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