LONDON (Reuters) – Two senior British judges accused the United States Wednesday of threatening to end intelligence cooperation with Britain if they published evidence about the alleged torture of a Guantanamo detainee.
Britons could face increased danger if the judges defied the U.S. authorities and released full details in the case of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British resident who is held in Guantanamo Bay, they said.
Lawyers for British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the threat had existed for some time and was still in place under President Barack Obama’s administration, according to a ruling from High Court judges Lord Justice Thomas and Lord Justice Lloyd Jones.
They quoted the lawyers as saying the U.S. government, by reviewing intelligence cooperation, “could inflict on the citizens of the United Kingdom a very considerable increase in the dangers they face at a time when a serious terrorist threat still pertains.”
Mohamed, arrested in Pakistan in April 2002, was accused of training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, joining a squad of al Qaeda bomb-makers in Pakistan and plotting to set off a radioactive bomb in the United States.
In October, the Pentagon official overseeing the Guantanamo war crimes court dismissed all charges against Mohamed, who says he falsely confessed to a radioactive “dirty bomb” plot while being tortured in a Moroccan prison.
British media had applied to the Court for the release of full details of the evidence that the British government held about the treatment of Mohamed after his detention.
“We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials … relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be,” the judges’ ruling said.
“We had no reason … to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would reconsider its intelligence sharing relationship,” it added.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that he was not aware of any such threat.
“We have a very strong intelligence relationship with the United States and this will continue,” the spokesman added.
Speaking in parliament, opposition Conservative politician David Davis called for the government to make a statement “on the involvement of British agents in torture, torture overseas and the right the United States government has to block a British court from disclosing information given to it.”