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UK spies won’t face criminal charges for torture | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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LONDON (AP) — British spies escaped immediate criminal charges over torture complicity Thursday, but the country’s top prosecutor ordered a new investigation into claims that intelligence shared with Muammar Gaddafi’s regime led to the torture or rendition of Libyans.

Prosecutors have been investigating claims of mistreatment by detainees who were eventually sent to the United States prison in Guantanamo, Cuba. Most of the torture allegations come from terror suspects who were either initially held in Pakistan and Afghanistan, or sent to other countries such as Morocco for interrogation.

Although the investigation into specific claims of collusion has ended, authorities said new evidence could force criminal investigations to be reopened. Civil actions may also emerge.

The agents have been accused of passing on information about detainees to their foreign captors but not of direct abuse.

The criminal investigation began in 2008 after former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohammed alleged that Britain was aware of his torture.

Mohamed, an Ethiopian who moved to Britain as a teenager and initially held in Pakistan, says he was also sent by the U.S. to Morocco where he was interrogated and brutally tortured. He alleges that he told an MI5 officer of his mistreatment in 2002.

Scotland Yard and the Crown Prosecution Service said that while they found that British intelligence agents provided information to U.S. officials about Mohammed and supplied questions for interrogators, there was insufficient evidence to suggest individuals knew there was a real risk or ill treatment or torture.

Prosecutors investigating a separate allegation of complicity also say they failed to find sufficient evidence — mostly because they lacked access to a witnesses and the detainee who had been held by U.S. authorities at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

Some 3,000 terror suspects are being held at the secretive detention facility where detainees lack access to lawyers. Human rights organizations have criticized U.S. authorities for a lack of transparency and legal protection for the detainees.

Eliza Manningham-Buller, a former head of MI5, has said she believes the U.S. deliberately misled its allies over its handling of detainees during the so-called war on terror.

Britain has already made payouts to 16 former detainees at Guantanamo. Among those alleged to have been part of the settlements were Mohamed, Bishar Al Rawi, Jamil El Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Martin Mubanga

British prosecutors and police said that while there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges now, cases could be reopened if new evidence emerges.

While the brunt of the investigation looks into claims of torture complicity brought by former Guantanamo detainees, it also looked at claims by two Libyans.

The two men allege that Britain shared intelligence information with the Gaddafi regime — and because of that information — they were sent back to Libya and tortured.

One of those men is Tripoli’s military council commander Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, a former fighter in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group which had opposed Gaddafi.

He claims both British and U.S. intelligence may have played a role in his 2004 detention in the Thai capital Bangkok and transfer to Tripoli. Documents uncovered during the fall of Tripoli disclosed the close working ties between Gaddafi’s spies and Western intelligence officials.

“The Metropolitan Police Service has decided that the allegations raised in the two specific cases concerning the alleged rendition of named individuals to Libya and the alleged mistreatment of them in Libya are so serious that it is in the public interest for them to be investigated now,” police and prosecutors said in their statement.

A separate government inquiry into intelligence sharing, complicity and rendition is expected to begin this year.