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Binyam Mohammed has always maintained that he was brutally tortured with the involvement and full knowledge of British and US intelligence agencies. Finally released in 2009, he had spent years in the CIA’s network of ‘black sites’ in appalling and degrading conditions. While travelling in Pakistan in 2001, Binyam was arrested on a visa violation and turned over to the US authorities.
In the heightened tension in Pakistan at the time, just days after Abu Zubaydah, an alleged senior al-Qaeda operative, was captured in Faisalabad, Binyam was immediately regarded with enormous suspicion by the American agents who visited him in the Pakistani prison in which he was held.
When the agents refused to let him go, he asked what crime he had committed, and insisted on having a lawyer if he was going to be interrogated. The FBI told him, ‘The rules have changed. You don’t get a lawyer.’ Binyam refused to speak to them. British agents then confirmed his identity to the US authorities and he was warned that he would be taken to a Middle Eastern country for harsh treatment.
In one graphic account of his torture Binyam says; “They took a scalpel to my right chest. It was only a small cut. Then they cut my left chest. One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute watching. I was in agony, crying, trying desperately to suppress myself, but I was screaming… They must have done this 20 aan 30 times in maybe two hours. There was blood all over.”
Op 21st Julie 2002, Binyam was rendered to Morocco on a CIA plane. He was held there for 18 months in appalling conditions. To ensure his confession, his Moroccan captors tortured him.
Despite this, Binyam said that his lowest point came when his interrogators asked him questions about his life in London, which he believed could only have been provided by the British intelligence services, and he realised that he had been betrayed by the country in which he had sought asylum.
After Morocco, he was transferred to Afghanistan, where he endured further torture in the “Dark Prison,” a secret “black site” near Kabul, run by the CIA, which was a grim recreation of a medieval dungeon, but with the addition of non-stop music and noise, blasted into the pitch-dark cells at an ear-piercing volume.
From the Dark Prison Binyam was taken to the main US prison at Bagram airbase, where at least two prisoners were murdered by US forces, and finally put on a plane to Guantánamo in September 2004, two and a half years after his ordeal began.
In Guantánamo, he was put forward for a Military Commission in November 2005, and made one memorable appearance before the military court when he held up a hand-written placard declaring that the Commissions was in fact a “Con-Missions.” in June 2006 the judge in his case was spared further embarrassment when the entire system was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
After this long battle with the US authorities, Binyam Mohamed was released from Guantánamo Bay arriving in Britain on Monday 23rd Februarie 2009. He was met by a doctor and his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith and Gareth Pierce, together with family and friends who took him to a quiet place to recover from his ordeal.
Binyam’s sister Zuhra, who travelled to London to meet him, sê: “I am so glad and so happy, more than words can express. I am so thankful for everything that was done for Binyam to make this day come true.”