IWhen I heard about Binyam Mohamed I felt a certain sense of relief that finally some of the truth was coming out into the public arena. But it’s not a revelation to me as it’s something I have maintained since my release: that the British intelligence services were present at every stage of my incarceration and knew what was happening to me and to many other British prisoners.
I am a British citizen and the British intelligence services were, as far as I’m concerned, complicit in the torture of their own citizens – the ones they’re supposed to protect.
I think that although the government is caught between trying to justify it and trying to deny it, this revelation should cause things to change more than they ever have before. But I don’t know if that will be the case. There’s been a strong denial from the government and suggestions from them that it’s a slur. That’s impossible. It’s a statement of fact.
The government is trying to hide this under the interests of national security.
I remember very well when I was held – not just in Guantánamo, but also in Bagram and Kandahar – that British intelligence services were present at every leg of that journey. I knew one of them from the UK because he’d visited my house in Birmingham, so we already knew each other when I saw him again at Kandahar and Bagram. It’s well-known, especially to all the Guantánamo prisoners, that the British intelligence services were present. The evidence is well-corroborated.
I don’t want to see those involved going to prison or suffering the way we did, but I do want the truth to come out and I don’t want them to hide behind national security. They need to be open so we can get some reconciliation.
It’s hard to describe the conditions in which I first met British intelligence officials when I was in US custody. After running the gauntlet of US soldiers punching and kicking me and dogs barking at me, I was forced to my knees, hooded and in shackles, with a gun pointed towards me.
When the hood was lifted so, metaphorically, was the veil, and in front of me I saw British intelligence agents.
I felt shock and relief. Relief that these people – among them was the man who’d been in my house and who I’d offered a cup of tea to – were British and so must have my interests at heart. And shock that they were British but didn’t have my best interests at heart