Guantanamo Britons to sue MI5 over ‘illegal interrogation’

(timesonline) - The three men from Tipton launched a lawsuit against the American authorities two years ago, alleging they were mistreated during their time in captivity. The US Court of Appeal dismissed their action earlier this year but they are appealing to the Supreme Court.

Eight men freed from Guantanamo Bay are suing the British Government for millions of pounds, claiming that it was complicit in the process in which they were detained and sent for interrogation at the detention camp.

The group have issued writs against MI5 and MI6 and said that the British authorities had knowledge of their illegal abduction, treatment and interrogation.

The eight men were detained in Afghanistan and Pakistan at various times. It is understood that they claim that the British authorities were aware that they would be removed to Guantanamo but nonetheless continued to co-operate with the Americans. The Daily Mail last night reported that two separate writs had been lodged by the group, with five Britons and three foreign citizens naming "The Security Services", "The Secret Intelligence Agency" and "The Attorney-General" as defendants.

The first writ was issued at the High Court in London by lawyers acting for Omar Deghayes, a Libyan, Jamil el-Banna, a Jordanian - both released last December - and Bisher al-Rawi, an Iraqi, released this year. All three men live in Britain but are foreign nationals.

The second names five Britons as claimants: Moazzam Begg, released in 2005, Richard Belmar, and the so-called "Tipton Three" - Ruhal Ahmed, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal. All were released in previous years.

The newspaper reported that one of the eight men claimed that the group were put on CIA "torture flights" to the prison camp in Cuba.

The Government has faced calls recently to order an independent inquiry into the process, known as "extraordinary rendition", in which terrorism suspects are sent for interrogation in states where they have no legal protection.

Irene Membhard, a solicitor with Birnberg Pierce, confirmed that writs had been issued on behalf of the men. She told the Daily Mail: "Service is not imminent but watch this space within the next two months."

Mr Begg, who was arrested by the CIA in Pakistan in 2002, said that the case would centre on the "general behaviour and complicity in the abuse of British citizens" by MI5 and MI6.

Mr Begg, from Birmingham, told the newspaper: "It is actual involvement in some cases, in the process of interrogation, in the process of us being handed over. It is culpability by the British authorities in being involved in most of the process, their presence on every step of the journey before we got to Guantanamo."

The eight men were all re-arrested when they returned to Britain but freed without charge.

News of the lawsuits came as it was reported that America's most senior general was "hoodwinked" by officials in the Bush Administration in relation to interrogation procedures at the prison.

The Guardian reported that General Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 to 2005, wrongly believed that inmates at Guantanamo were protected by the Geneva conventions. It said that he was duped by senior officials in Washington who believed that the Geneva conventions and other traditional safeguards were out of date.

The disclosures were contained in a new book by Philippe Sands, QC, a professor at University College London. The book, Torture Team, also claims that the Guantanamo lawyers charged with devising interrogation techniques were inspired by the character Jack Bauer, from the television series 24.

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