LONDON – More secret information relating to the alleged torture of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee should be disclosed, Britain's High Court ruled Thursday.
Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed claims the United States and Britain were complicit in his torture in Pakistan and Morocco, and his lawyers are pressing for Britain to release a seven-paragraph summary of U.S. intelligence files on his detention -- a document he claims proves Britain's complicity.
Thursday's High Court ruling concerns four paragraphs in an earlier court judgment that the government says reveals the content of the secret material.
Lawyers for Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband have argued that releasing the sensitive information would harm Britain's national security. Lord Justice John Thomas and Justice David Lloyd Jones said the paragraphs, which relate to how Mohamed was treated while in custody, should not be kept secret.
"Of itself, the treatment to which Mr. Mohamed was subjected could never properly be described in a democracy as 'a secret' or an 'intelligence secret' or 'a summary of classified intelligence," they said in their ruling.
The British government had also argued that American authorities would be reluctant to share security intelligence with Britain if there was a risk that confidential information would end up in the public domain.
Miliband said making the disclosure ordered by the court would harm Britain's national security.
But Thomas and Lloyd Jones said they didn't believe President Barack Obama's administration would take action against Britain if the information was put in the public domain. Despite the court's ruling, the controversial paragraphs cannot be made public immediately because the government has already said it is taking the matter to an appeals court next month.
"We have repeatedly made clear that it is not for the U.K. to release U.S. intelligence. The issues at stake go to the heart of the U.K.'s intelligence sharing relationship with other countries and our efforts to defend U.K. security," a statement from the Foreign Office said.
The case began more than a year ago when Mohamed was facing a military trial at Guantanamo. His lawyers sued the British government for intelligence documents they said could prove that evidence against him had been gathered under torture.
But then, the U.S. charges against Mohamed were dropped, Obama took office, and Mohamed was sent back to Britain -- a chain of events that led to the lawsuit in Britain becoming a larger battle for access to information.
The case has been unique. The judges have repeatedly lashed out at both the United States and the British governments for trying to conceal information, while taking the extraordinary step of encouraging the media to join in the legal challenge to disclose the information.
Lawyers for Mohamed and several media organizations, including The Associated Press, argued that the public had the right to know if Britain had colluded in Mohamed's treatment -- a possible violation of several international treaties -- or if America had used controversial interrogation practices.