Two senior British judges have expressed their anger and surprise that President Obama's Administration has put pressure on Britain to suppress evidence of torture in U.S. custody.
Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones said they had been told that America had threatened to stop cooperating with Britain on intelligence matters if evidence were published suggesting that Binyam Mohammed, a British resident held at the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, had been tortured into confessing crimes.
The judges said that lawyers for the Foreign Office & Commonwealth Office had assured them that the threat still held good, even since Obama had come to power and reversed many of his predecessor's policies on the torture and detention of terror suspects.
In a withering ruling that condemned America for a lack of principles, the judges said: "We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials . . . relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be.
“We had no reason . . . to anticipate there would be made a threat of the gravity of the kind made by the United States Government that it would reconsider its intelligence-sharing relationship, when all the considerations in relation to open justice pointed to us providing a limited but important summary of the reports.”
The ruling concerns the case of Mohammed — an Ethiopian national who came to Britain as a teenage refugee — who was arrested and taken into U.S. custody in Pakistan in 2002 and who has been held at Guantánamo Bay since September 2004 on suspicion of terrorism.
Mohammed wants reports written by US intelligence officials, which it is understood may back his claims of torture, to be published.
The U.S. objected, and they edited out of their ruling any details from reports written by American intelligence officials and supplied to the British courts.