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Committee to probe U.K. torture links

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Commons committee to request for the redacted portions of CIA torture report to be made public

Did British intelligence agencies play any role in the interrogation of detainees by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the post 9/11 period? Were they present at the interrogations, or did they use information gleaned under torture?

Downing Street has admitted that some material was removed at the request of Britain for national security reasons from the United States Senate Committee’s recent report on CIA interrogation techniques. However, it asserted that none of these redacted portions related to British involvement in the torture of prisoners.

Mounting pressure

The mounting pressure for full disclosure on the role of British intelligence agencies has resulted in a House of Commons Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) inquiry into the matter.

The committee’s chair, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the ISC would request the United States government to make available to it those redacted portions that have “any references to the U.K. and its possible involvement” in the U.S. Senate report, which documents the brutal treatment of al-Qaeda suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attack.

“In the United Kingdom, anything can only be redacted on national security grounds, and if the Prime Minster tried to redact one of our reports simply to prevent political embarrassment, we would refuse and we would make a huge public fuss about it. We hope the same principle applies in America. That is what we have to test,” he said.

This claim has been questioned by campaign groups who say that Britain’s MI-6 worked closely with U.S. intelligence services, especially in rendition cases.

Lord West’s admission

The admission by Lord West, who was Security Minister between 2007 and 2010, that U.K. spies may have been aware of torture carried out by the CIA, has put even more pressure on the Cameron government to order a full judicial inquiry into the matter.

“If British intelligence officials were present when people were being tortured then they were complicit in that torture,” Sir Malcolm said.

Britain’s MI-6 is already under investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service for its involvement in 2004 in secret abductions and renditions of Libyan dissidents — included children and a pregnant woman — back to Tripoli, where they were tortured in Muammar Qadhafi’s prisons.

The Intelligence Security Committee’s brief includes the renditions programme, although they must wait till the Crown Prosecution Service to complete its investigations.

“The most serious allegation against the United kingdom in this area is the Libyan one, because not just did we know, but the allegation is that people in MI-6 were actively involved with the U.S. in getting these two people rendered back to Qaddafi’s prison,” said Sir Malcolm. He has promised to cross-examine Lord Best, and said his committee will publish the facts “without fear or favour.”

Diego Garcia agreement

There is also pressure on the government not to extend the agreement that allows the U.S. to use the British Overseas Territory of Diego Garcia as a military base and a possible centre for torture of prisoners.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 2:22:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/committee-to-probe-uk-torture-links/article6691299.ece

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