UK & World News

  • 19 December 2013, 13:09

UK Knew Prisoners Mistreated, Says Report

British intelligence officers knew prisoners were being tortured and were involved in rendition cases, a report has found.

The inquiry into the UK involvement in the torture and rendition of detainees following 9/11 has found that officers were "aware of inappropriate interrogations techniques and mistreatment" of prisoners, including sleep deprivation, hooding and waterboarding.

However, the report said, they were reluctant to raise issues about the way prisoners were being treated because they didn't want to jeopardise relations with other countries.

The interim findings of the inquiry by Sir Peter Gibson, a former appeal court judge, also found that the Government may have "become inappropriately involved" in some cases of rendition.

Sir Peter's investigation, which reviewed 20,000 security document, found there were 27 areas which needed further investigation relating to interrogation, rendition and the way intelligence officers were trained.

These areas included whether the Government should have done more to secure the earlier release of those held at Guantanamo Bay.

The report states: "A theme that runs through a number of the lead cases considered by the inquiry is whether treatment issues - such as sleep deprivation, hooding, and media reports of waterboarding - were raised appropriately with the relevant liaison partners responsible for the detention and treatment in question.

"Documents provided to the inquiry show that in some instances there was a reluctance to raise treatment issues for fear of damaging liaison relationships or that when these issues were raised, only limited details were provided."

The report added: "The documents show that there are some instances where UK officers continued to engage with detainees held by liaison partners in various locations after ill-treatment had either been witnessed or alleged and then reported to Head Office.

"In some instances it is not clear from the documents provided to the inquiry that anything was done following a concern raised by officers."

Scotland Yard is carrying out four criminal investigations into Libyan renditions and the actions of UK intelligence officers at Guantanamo Bay and a detention facility at Bagram, the largest US military base in Afghanistan.

Giving a statement on the report to the House of Commons Ken Clarke, Minister Without Portfolio, said that the report painted a picture of Government and agencies "struggling to come to terms with the new threat" in the wake of 9/11.

He said that allegations of illegal rendition had harmed the UK's reputation.

Mr Clarke said that the 27 issues highlighted in the report would now be examined by MPs on the Intelligence and Security Committee, which would be expected to report back at the end of next year.

He said "a line has begun to be drawn under a difficult period of the past" but added: "It remains important that we deal properly with the 27 issues which Sir Peter's report raises.

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