LONDON (Reuters) – A British opposition politician has accused the government and intelligence agents of colluding in the torture of a British terrorism suspect whose interrogation was “outsourced” to Pakistan.
Speaking with parliamentary privilege, which allowed him to make allegations which might otherwise be in contempt of court, Conservative David Davis said the government had helped set up the torture and abuse of suspect Rangzieb Ahmed at the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI).
“A more obvious case of outsourcing of torture, a more obvious case of passive rendition, I cannot imagine,” Davis, a former spokesman on home affairs issues, told parliament late on Tuesday, according to video on www.parliamentlive.tv.
The government dismissed Davis’s accusations, saying he was presenting unsubstantiated allegations as fact.
Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis said the government was clear in its opposition to torture.
“It is an abhorrent crime and we are fundamentally opposed to it,” he said. “That principle guides all the government’s work, including the intelligence services and the armed forces.”
Ahmed, a British national, was allowed to travel to Pakistan in 2006, even though he was suspected of involvement in terrorism offences and was under surveillance by British police.
The ISI was alerted, Davis said, and its agents detained Ahmed, who was beaten and tortured, including having three of his fingernails extracted, during 13 months in custody. British MI5 agents also questioned him during that time and supplied questions to the ISI for the interrogations.
“He should have been arrested by the UK in 2006,” Davis said. “He was not. The authorities knew that he intended to travel to Pakistan, so they should have prevented that. Instead, they suggested the ISI arrest him.
“They knew he would be tortured, and they organized to construct a list of questions and provide it to ISI.”
Ahmed was eventually returned to Britain and jailed for life last year after being found guilty of membership of al Qaeda and directing a terrorist cell. He is appealing his conviction.
Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, has said that Britain would never seek or procure information via torture, but Davis said he no longer believed that statement.
“I’m afraid, on the basis of what I have seen of this case, I don’t believe him. And if that is true, then somebody should ask him why they are fighting so hard” to keep evidence from the public domain, Davis told BBC radio on Wednesday.
The politician said he knew of at least 15 cases similar to Ahmed’s in which suspects had been sent abroad for interrogations where they were subjected to abuse and torture.