Medeshi March 23, 2009
US Asked Binyam Mohamed To Drop Torture Claim In Exchange For Freedom: British Court
LONDON — A British court says U.S. authorities asked a Guantanamo Bay detainee to drop allegations of torture in exchange for his freedom.
A ruling by two British High Court judges published Monday says the U.S. offered Binyam Mohamed a plea bargain deal in October. Mohamed refused the deal and the U.S. dropped all charges against him later last year. He was released last month.
Mohamed is an Ethiopian who moved to Britain when he was a teenager. He was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and claims he was tortured both there and in Morocco. He was transferred to Guantanamo in 2004.
The court said the plea bargain also asked Mohamed to plead guilty to two charges and agree not to speak publicly about his ordeal.
The judges considered the plea bargain issue during an appeal to the High Court by Mohamed's lawyers demanding the British government release documents they claim would prove he was tortured.
Issuing a judgment on the case in February, Thomas said there was evidence to show Mohamed was tortured, but that the documents could not be made public because of the British government's national security concerns.
He said Britain's government had said releasing the documents could undermine intelligence-sharing with the United States.
Mohamed claims British intelligence officers supplied questions to his interrogators and were complicit in his torture _ a claim Prime Minister Gordon Brown has rejected.
In investigating Mohamed's claims, the British court reviewed the draft plea bargain and correspondence between military prosecutors and Mohamed's lawyers.
The ruling quoted testimony from Mohamed's lawyer about the offer.
"Mr. Mohamed must sign a statement saying he has not been tortured, which would be false. And he must agree not to make any public statement about what he has been through," Clive Stafford Smith told the court in October, according to the ruling.
The ruling also quotes then-U.S. military prosecutor Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld as saying Mohamed would be given a date for his release if he agreed to the terms.
Vandeveld _ who has since quit his post _ had said Mohamed would need to plead guilty to two charges in exchange for a three-year sentence and to testify against other suspects, according to the court documents.
The ruling discloses that, had Mohamed agreed to the plea bargain, the British government told the U.S. it would not allow him to serve the three-year sentence in a U.K. jail.
Since February, Mohamed has given interviews to the BBC and a British newspaper.
Read More: Binyam Mohamed, Foreign Affairs, Guantanamo, Guantanamo Plea Bargain, GuantáNamo Bay, Us Plea Bargain Guantanamo