MI5 “outsourced” torture

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: The government is facing calls for an inquiry into allegations that MI5 “outsourced” the torture of U.K. citizens, suspected of terrorist activities, to Pakistani authorities.

However, the Home Office denied these claims and said the government “unreservedly” condemned use of torture. Among those demanding an inquiry is a Labour MP John McDonnell, one of whose constituents — a British medical student of Pakistani origin — has alleged he was kidnapped at gunpoint during a visit to Karachi in 2005 and held for two months allegedly by Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau and tortured.

The constituent, who did not want his identity to be disclosed, reportedly claimed he was interrogated about the July 7 suicide attacks on London involving four British-born men of Pakistani descent. He alleged that while in Pakistani custody, he was also questioned by MI5 officers, suggesting British intelligence agency’s “collusion” with his tormentors.

Sufficient evidence

The Guardian newspaper, which has previously disclosed cases of British men being illegally detained in Pakistan, quoted Mr. McDonnell as saying there was “sufficient evidence” to warrant an investigation whether British intelligence officers colluded in the alleged torture of his constituent.

“This warrants the fullest investigation by the ISC (Intelligence and Security Committee of MPs). I would expect the government to cooperate fully with such an investigation and eventually for Prime Minister to make a statement to Parliament on how this practice has been allowed to develop and what action is to be taken,” said Mr. McDonnell.

The newspaper reported two more British citizens had made similar allegations. They included Tariq Mahmood, a taxi driver from Birmingham, who alleged he was abducted in Rawalpindi in October 2003 and held illegally for about five months; and Tahir Shah, a London-based author who claimed he was detained for 16 days in 2005.

The Home Office said British security and intelligence agencies did not “participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture or inhumane or degrading treatment.”

“For reasons both ethical and legal, their policy is not to carry out any action which they know would result in torture or inhumane or degrading treatment,” it said in a statement.

Recommended for you