This is the blog of British investigative journalist Jason Lewis.
It features articles from my time as Investigations Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and Whitehall and Security Editor of the Mail on Sunday.
I specialise in writing on intelligence and security matters, human and civil rights and the activities of the British State.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Binyam Mohamed can stay in Britain - but he wants it kept secret: Former detainee argues reporting story amounts to 'torture'
Imprisoned: Binyam Mohamed spent more than four years at Guantanamo Bay
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed last night lost a legal bid to prevent The Mail on Sunday from revealing that he has been granted permanent residency in Britain.
The controversial move by the former UK asylum seeker came despite his continued involvement in a series of high-profile legal battles with the Government, claiming that Labour Ministers, MI5 and MI6 were complicit in his illegal detention and alleged torture.
Last night lawyers acting for Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed,
32, failed to win a High Court injunction preventing the public from knowing that he had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The extraordinary case was brought under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which covers torture.
Mr Mohamed’s lawyers claimed that publicising his right to remain in Britain would amount to inhumane and degrading treatment.
The case comes amid increasing disquiet about the growing practice of allowing asylum seekers to remain anonymous when they argue that they should be allowed to make the UK their permanent home.
Earlier this year the Supreme Court warned against the now ‘widespread phenomenon’ that had allowed many foreign applicants anonymity in immigration cases, including those involving alleged terrorist activities.
It said: ‘At present, the courts are denying the public information which is relevant to that debate, even though the whole system has been created and operated in their name.’
But yesterday, in an emergency hearing lasting 90 minutes, lawyers for Mr Mohamed, headed by QC Hugh Southey, attempted to argue that the torture victim was a special case.
The Mail on Sunday cannot report the evidence presented by Mr Mohamed’s legal team other than to say they argued that allowing it to be revealed would be a breach of his privacy and would amount to ‘inhumane and degrading treatment’.
Free: Binyam Mohamed shields his face following his release from Guantanamo Bay
But after arguments by Mail on Sunday barrister Desmond Browne QC, the former chairman of the Bar Council and one of the country’s most distinguished libel and privacy lawyers, High Court judge Mr Justice Cooke turned down Mr Mohamed’s application and ordered him to pay costs.
Explaining his ruling, Mr Justice Cooke said: ‘It is plainly a matter of public interest. The fact is the very identity of this applicant is of importance.
'The history of the circumstances in which he was taken to Guantanamo Bay, his immigration status, the alleged complicity of Her Majesty’s Government in what happened at Guantanamo Bay, all raise questions of public interest against which the decision to grant the applicant indefinite leave to remain has to be seen.
'I cannot say in the circumstances that the applicant is likely to succeed in preventing publication of that matter.’
Touch down: Binyam steps on to British soil following his release
Mr Mohamed was allowed to come to Britain in 2009, having spent six years as a prisoner after being captured and transported under the CIA’s so-called extraordinary rendition programme, which saw terror suspects secretly moved between interrogation centres in parts of the world with poor human rights records.
He had been arrested in Pakistan in 2002 after attempting to board a flight to Britain using a forged passport and claims he was then transferred between several so-called ‘ghost prisons’ where he was interrogated and tortured.
The US military said that during questioning, Mr Mohamed admitted that he had trained in the Al Farouq Al Qaeda terrorist training camp alongside another Briton, Richard Reid, who attempted to bring down a passenger jet with explosives hidden in
It was also alleged that Mr Mohamed was trained to build radioactive dirty bombs and involved in an alleged plot to attack high-rise apartment buildings in the United States.
But he denied these claims, and said his admissions were made under torture and that he had in fact travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to overcome drug problems.
He says he was held in prisons in Pakistan, Morocco and Afghanistan, and that while he was in Morocco, interrogators tortured him by using scalpels or razor blades repeatedly to cut his penis and chest.
Mr Mohamed was taken from Bagram air base to Guantanamo Bay on September 19, 2004. After the US dropped the case against him, he was allowed to return to Britain in February 2009.
Almost immediately he began proceedings against the British Government, alleging they had been complicit in his ill-treatment.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday when he was released, he said: ‘It was obvious the British were feeding them questions about people in London.’
Last night a Home Office spokesman said it did not comment on individual immigration cases.
Freedom has to work both ways, Mr Mohamed
Mail on Sunday Comment
The use of super injunctions to keep the public from knowing about matters that might be regarded as controversial is increasing at an alarming rate.
Almost every week some celebrity takes out such an injunction to prevent publication of facts that might cause him shame, damage his reputation or reduce his earning power.
That is quite bad enough. But even more disturbing is the use of such instruments to prevent the media from reporting the workings of Parliament or the courts.
Galling: Binyam Mohamed owes his release to the diligent actions of an independent Press, not least this newspaper
Recently, a large multi-national company even tried to stop The Guardian newspaper reporting a parliamentary question. Now Binyam Mohamed has sought to prevent The Mail on Sunday from reporting that he has been given leave to remain in this country.
This is particularly galling because he owes his release to the diligent actions of an independent Press, not least this newspaper.
He was perfectly happy for us to lay bare the details of the legal battle that secured his liberty – and the activities of Britain’s security services.
The principle that helped to free Binyam Mohamed in the first place – that the actions of the state and the courts in a free society must be open to reasonable scrutiny – applies just as much to him and his immigration status as it does to the British Government and its decisions.