What price the war on terror?
Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, has asked the attorney general to investigate possible “criminal wrongdoing” by the MI5 and the CIA over its treatment of a British resident held in Guantánamo Bay, it was revealed tonight.
The dramatic development over allegations of collusion in torture and inhuman treatment follows a high court judgment which found that an MI5 officer participated in the unlawful interrogation of Binyam Mohamed. The MI5 officer interrogated Mohamed while he was being held in Pakistan in 2002.
It emerged tonight that lawyers acting for Smith have sent the attorney general, Baroness Scotland, evidence about MI5 and CIA involvement in the case, which was heard behind closed doors in high court hearings. In a letter seen by the Guardian, they have asked Scotland – as an independent law officer – to investigate “possible criminal wrongdoing”. The move could lead to a criminal prosecution.
The evidence was suppressed following gagging orders demanded by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, and the US authorities. The action by Smith, the minister responsible for MI5 activities, is believed to be unprecedented.
A Home Office spokesman confirmed tonight that the letter and closed evidence had been sent to the attorney. It had no further comment.
In the high court earlier this month, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones condemned as “deeply disturbing” a refusal by the US to disclose evidence. In a particularly damning passage, they said claims by Mohamed’s lawyers that the US was refusing to release the papers because “torturers do not readily hand over evidence of their conduct” could not be dismissed and required an answer.