Monday 23 September 2019

UK intelligence officers knew of terror suspects' torture

The pace of work after 9/11 was ‘frenetic’, the report said. AP Photo
The pace of work after 9/11 was ‘frenetic’, the report said. AP Photo

Kim Sengupta in London

British intelligence officers saw terror suspects tortured and helped hand them over for mistreatment, a damning report has revealed.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) concluded that British authorities turned a blind eye to the routine mistreatment of detainees by US authorities.

The House of Commons committee added that UK intelligence agencies knew what was going on from an early point.

MPs found that British spies saw detainees mistreated at least 13 times and were told by prisoners on 25 other occasions that they were being mistreated. On another 128 occasions, they were told of mistreatment by foreign agencies.

But despite this, UK agencies continued to supply questions for interrogations. The committee found there were 232 cases when this took place despite the knowledge or strong suspicion that the information was being obtained by torture or other abuse.

There were also 198 cases where there was definite knowledge of mistreatment.

There is no evidence, said the report, that British officers themselves took part in torture.

The UK agencies played a major role in the rendition of suspects by the US, the report found.

MI6 and MI5 subsidised, or offered to subsidise, rendition in three cases and provided information enabling arrests and transportation in 28 cases as well proposing or agreeing to rendition in 22 others.

They failed to take the opportunity to stop rendition in 23 cases, including those of British nationals or residents.

The committee's report said: "Immediately after 9/11, the agency heads and deputies were briefed by the CIA: these briefings clearly showed US intent but were not taken seriously.

"The pace of work after 9/11 was frenetic," the report said.

"We do not underestimate the pressure that the agencies experienced while dealing with the imperative to protect the UK and prevent another attack on the scale of 9/11."

Irish Independent

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