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UK involved in rendition of Britons to Somalia

UK Authorities Actively Involved in Extraordinary Rendition of Four British Citizens to Somalia

Statement from Reprieve, 10 February 2007

Reprieve has learned that four British nationals (Shahajan Janjua, Reza Afsharzadagen, Mohammed Ezzoueck and Hamza Chentouf) were rendered from Kenya to Somalia on the morning of the 10th of February 2006, where they are being held in an undisclosed detention centre. Reprieve is concerned that they face torture unless the UK government acts immediately to ensure their safe return home.

Investigation by Cageprisoners and Reprieve revealed how the men fled from danger in Somalia, and were held without charge by the Kenyan authorities for over a month. During that time they received no consular visits by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) but were interrogated on numerous occasions by the UK security services.

"What has happened to these four men is a scandal," said Clive Stafford Smith, Legal Director of Reprieve. "Apparently the only consular assistance available to British Muslims abroad who find themselves in danger is interrogation by the UK intelligence services. The FCO conceded they knew where the men were being imprisoned from the 21st of January onwards. Why did they fail to intervene?"

22 year-old UK citizen Shahajan Janjua bought a ticket in the UK for a brief visit to Somalia for a friend's wedding. When Ethiopia and the US attacked the country, he desperately tried to escape the danger, fleeing to Kenya. On the 31st of January 2007, he contacted NGOs in the UK by mobile phone informing them that he had been held without charge for one month in Ungata Rongoi police station with the three other Britons. Shahajan added that his nose had been badly broken by a Kenyan guard and that he had been tortured.

The four Britons were arrested by Kenyan authorities in early January 2007. They were in a group of seven foreign nationals, including a Swedish citizen, held at Ungata Rongoi prison in Nairobi before being transferred to other Kenyan prisons. The whereabouts of the other foreign nationals is unknown.

62 Foreign nationals have reportedly been rendered in shackles from Kenya to Somalia in the past few weeks. On the 28th January the Somali interim government spokesman Abdirahman Dinari confirmed that foreign nationals recently rendered from Kenya to Somalia were "being held in secret detention somewhere in Mogadishu".

Louise Christian, UK lawyer for the families of the men said:

"The British government has obligations to British citizens detained abroad to ensure their safety and welfare. Instead it appears that they have actively participated in their extraordinary rendition to a country which it is known perpetrates extreme human rights abuses putting their lives in direct danger. The Foreign Office assured the families they had control of the situation and were bringing them back to this country. It is unbelievable that they should have allowed this to happen."