Source: Andy Worthington
Today's Independent runs a front-page story, The Last Briton in Guantanamo faces death penalty, focusing on the plight of British resident Binyam Mohamed. Seized in Pakistan in April 2002, Binyam was subsequently rendered to Morocco, where proxy torturers, working on behalf of the Americans, tortured him for 18 months, in interrogation sessions that included regularly cutting his penis with a razor blade. He was then transferred to the "Dark Prison," a secret CIA prison near Kabul, modelled on a medieval torture dungeon, but with the addition of ear-splitting music and noise, which was blasted into the cells for 24 hours a day, and finally arrived in Guantanamo in September 2004.
In November 2005, Binyam was put forward for trial by Military Commission –- a novel system of trials for "terror suspects," invented by Vice President Dick Cheney and his advisers in November 2001 –- but in June 2006, after one farcical episode in front of a judge, which ended up with Binyam holding up a sign declaring that the "Commissions" were "Con-missions" instead, the entire system was ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Commissions were revived later that year, when Congress passed the Military Commissions Act, and it is expected that Binyam will imminently face charges under this second version of the "Con-missions," even though they have yet to demonstrate that they can actually function, and even though Binyam and his lawyers at Reprieve, the legal action charity that works on behalf of over 30 prisoners in Guantanamo, have always maintained that not a shred of evidence of Binyam's alleged involvement in a bomb plot conceived with various senior al-Qaeda figures was produced without the use of torture.
The Independent's article featured excerpts from a letter to Prime Minster Gordon Brown, which was dictated by Binyam to his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, the director of Reprieve, during a visit at Guantanamo last week. Below is the full text of the letter, which was delivered to 10 Downing Street yesterday.
Note that Binyam's mention of the intervention of the British government refers to the government's request for the return of five British residents –- including Binyam –- last August. Although three residents were subsequently returned (in December), he was not one of them, as the US authorities refused to release him. His mention of the Treasury Solicitors refers to a recent lawsuit filed by Reprieve and solicitors at Leigh Day demanding that the government release any information they have regarding British knowledge of Binyam's rendition to Morocco, and any information that was provided to US intelligence.
Thursday, May 22nd 2008
Dear Prime Minister Brown,
I have been held without trial by the U.S. for 6 years, 1 month & 12 days. That is 2,234 days (very long days, and often longer nights). Of this, about 550 days were in a torture chamber in Morocco, and about 150 in the "Dark Prison" in Kabul. Still there is no end in sight, no prospect of a fair trial.
Because I am a Londoner, your government states publicly that you support my right to return home there as soon as possible. I am grateful for that. I always viewed Britain as the country that stood up for human rights more than any other. That was why I came to Britain as a refugee.
Before the intervention of your government to help me, I was more resigned to my fate, to be held forever without a fair trial. When your government intervened I had hope. But it has been a cruel hope. Nine months later I am still here, no closer to home, still in this terrible prison.
When I learned that my Moroccan torturers were using information supplied by British intelligence, I felt deeply betrayed. When I learned that your government's lawyers (the Treasury Solicitors) had told my lawyers they had no duty to help prove my innocence, or even that I had been tortured, I felt betrayed again.
It is long past time to end this matter. I have been next to committing suicide this past while. That would be one way to end it, I suppose.
- Clive Stafford Smith: Why has the Government forsaken Binyam Mohamed? - The Independent, 30 May