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Guantánamo detainee accuses British agencies of complicity in his torture | Guantanamo Gulf

A Guantánamo Bay prisoner tortured by the CIA has accused British intelligence agencies of complicity in his mistreatment in a new case in one of the UK’s most secretive courts.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused by the United States of plotting the al-Qaeda bombing of a United States Navy ship, is seeking to persuade the court to consider his complaint against MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

Lawyers for al-Nashiri, 58, argued this week that there was an “inevitable inference” that intelligence agencies were complicit in his torture, rendition and mistreatment by the CIA.

Al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen, was first arrested in 2002 as part of the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program after 9/11. He is currently facing the death penalty before a US military commission for his alleged role in the 2000 bombing.

The UK government argues that the Investigative Powers Tribunal (IPT) – a special judicial body that investigates complaints against intelligence services – lacks jurisdiction to hear al-Nashiri’s claim.

In court documents, al-Nashiri’s lawyer, Hugh Southey KC, said: “The plaintiff’s case is that British agencies aided, abetted, abetted, facilitated and/or conspired with U.S. authorities in his mistreatment.

After his capture by the CIA, al-Nashiri was placed in a network of secret prisons operated by the agency, known as black sites, in Afghanistan, Thailand and several countries in Eastern Europe.

A US Senate investigation into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention program found that al-Nashiri had been tortured repeatedly while in the secret sites. So-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used against him included waterboarding, mock executions and “rectal feeding”.

After being held for nearly four years in secret CIA facilities, al-Nashiri was transferred in 2006 to the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba. He has been held there ever since.

In al-Nashiri’s complaint to the IPT, his lawyers said he was of “special interest” to British intelligence in the 2000s and was likely part of a group of detainees of which the United Kingdom was allegedly complicit.

Lawyers allege UK involvement in al-Nashiri’s mistreatment likely included allowing Luton Airport to be used to refuel a private jet used during his return from Thailand to Poland in December 2002.

If al-Nashiri’s case is allowed to proceed at the IPT, it could bring to light long-standing questions about alleged UK complicity in the CIA’s detention programme.

In 2018, the House Intelligence and Security Committee concluded that UK spy agencies were involved in the kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects by the CIA and other partner intelligence services.

However, the committee said its investigation had been ‘prematurely terminated’ due to government obstruction and warned: ‘There are questions and incidents which therefore remain unanswered and uninvestigated’.

British ministers previously pledged to conduct an independent, judge-led inquiry into the matter, but that pledge was dropped in 2019.

Do you have any information about this story? Email harry.davies@theguardian.com.

At Guantánamo Bay, al-Nashiri is awaiting trial in a military tribunal in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 US sailors. US officials have accused him of being “one of al-Qaeda’s most competent, capable and prolific operational coordinators”.

Al-Nashiri’s case was closely scrutinized by the European Court of Human Rights, which found that Poland, Romania and Lithuania committed human rights abuses while aiding the CIA to operate black sites.

The European Court ruled that the secret CIA program was specifically designed to deprive detainees of the protections provided by US and international law against torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detention.

Asked about al-Nashiri’s case at the IPT, a government spokesperson said: “It is a long-standing principle that the government neither confirms nor denies allegations, claims or speculations about the activities of British intelligence agencies”.


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