Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born refugee with British residency, was released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Cuba — and put on a chartered plane heading to a British military base in the early morning today.
He is being accompanied on the flight “by officers from the Metropolitan Police Counter-terrorism Command, a uniformed police escort team and a doctor”, but is not expected to be detained once he arrives in the U.K., according to a report by The Times of London. He will reportedly report regularly to U.K. police and will be kept under surveillance, but will be able to live at home. At one time he was accused — perhaps without sufficient basis, it now appears — of working with others [including Jose Padilla] while in Pakistan on the construction of an “improvised radioactive bomb” or a “dirty bomb” that would be detonated in the U.S.
Arrested at Karachi airport Pakistan on 10 April 2002 while attempting to fly out using a fake or false passport — he said his had been lost — Mohamed has since “been held in US custody for a total of eight years”, according to the report in The Times published here — first in Pakistan, then taken in extraordinary rendition to Morocco, Afghanistan, and, finally, September 2004, in Guantanamo.
His detention was never reviewed by a court or tribunal.
Almost none of the nearly 770 people who have passed through Guantanamo in the last seven years have been granted this right.
He was also held incommunicado and without access to a lawyer from the date of his arrest until May 2004, according to the Judgment handed down in British Court on 21 August 2008 ordering the release to his lawyers of documents held by the British government that are believed to substantiate his claims of having been tortured.
The Judgment also says that there is a total absence of information about Mohamed’s whereabouts — he disappeared — for two years, from May 2002 until May 2004. Mohamed himself believes he was transferred to Morocco on 22 July 2002 and tortured there by masked persons until 22 January 2004, according to the Judgment, when he was transferred, again by “extraordinary rendition”, to Bagram airbase, then in May 2004 to Kabul, Afghanistan.
While he was still in the air en route to the UK after his release today, Reuters has reported that “In a statement statement issued via his lawyers after his release, he accused the U.S. government of orchestrating his torture. ‘I have been through an experience that I never thought to encounter in my darkest nightmares … Before this ordeal, “torture” was an abstract word for me. I could never have imagined that I would be its victim. It is difficult for me to believe that I was abducted, hauled from one country to the next, and tortured in medieval ways — all orchestrated by the United States government … 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 … “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 United States agreed to release Mohamed last week after 18 months of pressure from the British government. He is the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be released since President Barack Obama came to power”. The full Reuters report can be read here.
According to The Times, “his family and friends were due to take him to ‘a quiet place to recover from his ordeal’, the statement added, while a press conference was held in London by his lawyers”.
The British Court Judgment has stated that there is independent evidence of a deterioration in his mental health.
While in Morocco, Mohamed was apparently severely beaten, subjected to sleep deprivation, and his penis and “private parts” were cut by a scalpel — on a regular basis.
There is apparently documentary evidence confirming his torture, which the British and American governments do not want released, according to a report published on 14 February in the Daily Mail.
The Reuters report, here , says that “Mohamed was detained in Pakistan in April 2002 … taken to Morocco on a CIA flight in July 2002, his lawyers say, and again subjected to torture and abuse. Morocco has denied holding him and the U.S. government has denied that he was subjected to ‘extraordinary rendition”.