Freed, British detainee details abuses
Binyam Mohamed returned to London Monday a free man after spending the past seven years in a tangle of military prison camps, where he claims he was tortured.
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Last year, after a federal judge ordered the US government to turn over information about Mohamed's interrogations and treatment, charges against him were dropped. The charges originated from a special military commission set up by the Bush administration with stripped-down due-process protections to allow the introduction of evidence from coerced confessions.Skip to next paragraph
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Arrested in Pakistan
Mohamed lived in London beginning in 1994. After taking college courses, developing a drug addiction, and eventually becoming a student of Islam, he traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 to experience Muslim societies first-hand and to try to shake his drug habit, according to his lawyers. When war broke out in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, Mohamed sought to return to Britain. He was arrested at the Karachi airport trying to use a friend's passport.
While still in Pakistani custody, he was hung from the ceiling for a week with his feet just touching the floor, the lawyers say. After several months in Pakistani custody, he was turned over to US agents, who flew him to Morocco, according to the lawyers.
Interrogations in Morocco were accompanied by repeated scalpel cuts, according to diary entries provided by his lawyers. He was threatened with castration unless he "told the truth." The scalpel interrogation technique was repeated once a month for about a year, Mohamed has told his lawyers.
He says he was routinely beaten and was drugged. The interrogators cuffed his hands so he couldn't remove a set of headphones, then blasted music by Meatloaf and Aerosmith at top volume, over and over, all day and all night. "I hated that," he later told his lawyers.
He also told them: "About once a month they would do other things to me that I just cannot talk about." "I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming," Mohamed wrote about his treatment in Morocco.
What role did Britain play?
In London, controversy is growing around claims that British authorities were aware of the alleged mistreatment in Pakistan and Morocco.
"Many have been complicit in my own horrors over the past seven years," Mohamed said.
"For myself, the very worst moment came when I realized in Morocco that the people who were torturing me were receiving questions and materials from British intelligence," he said. "I had met with British intelligence in Pakistan. I had been open with them. Yet the very people who I had hoped would come to my rescue, I later realized, had allied themselves with my abusers."
The British government has refused to release documents related to Mohamed's treatment, citing a threat from the US government that it would halt intelligence-sharing operations between the two countries if the sensitive information is made public.
Clive Stafford-Smith, director of Reprieve, is urging public release. "You can't learn from history if you don't know what the history is," he said.
"It's disturbing that the British government has thus far declined to put into the public domain evidence of Binyam's torture."
Mohamed is being allowed "temporary admission" to Britain, according to the British government.
He has reportedly agreed to abide by several voluntary security measures including reporting on a regular basis to the police.
His legal team, family, and friends have said that they intend to bring him to a "quiet place" to recover.
However, his return has already sparked a major clamor by sections of the British media trying to locate him. His sister, Zuhra, a US citizen who traveled to London to meet him, said: "I am so glad and so happy, more than words can express. I am so thankful for everything that was done for Binyam to make this day come true."