/ 23 February 2009

Freed Guantánamo detainee says US behind his torture

Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident held at Guantánamo Bay for more than four years, was released and put on a plane to home on Monday.

He accused the US government of orchestrating his torture.

Mohamed, 30, was due to arrive back in the UK shortly following his release from the US prison camp on Cuba. His statement was issued via his lawyers after his release.

”I have been through an experience that I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares,” said Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen who has UK residency.

”Before this ordeal, ‘torture’ was an abstract word for me. I could never have imagined that I would be its victim. It is difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways — all orchestrated by the United States government.”

The US agreed to release Mohamed last week after 18 months of pressure from the UK government. He is the first Guantánamo Bay detainee to be released since President Barack Obama came to power.

Mohamed was detained in Pakistan in April 2002, where his lawyers say he was held for nearly four months, during which he says he was tortured and abused by Pakistani intelligence officers in the presence of a UK intelligence agent.

He was taken to Morocco on a CIA flight in July 2002, his lawyers say, and again subjected to torture and abuse. Morocco has denied holding him and the US government has denied that he was subjected to ”extraordinary rendition”.

Mohamed has been accused of receiving al-Qaeda training in Afghanistan and Pakistan and of plotting to detonate a ”dirty bomb” on the US transport network, but all charges brought against him have been dropped and he has never been tried.

In his statement, he accused the UK government of colluding with foreign governments during his abuse and torture.

”For myself, the very worst moment came when I realised in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence,” he said.

”I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open with them. Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realised, had allied themselves with my abusers.” — Reuters