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13 Dec, 2014 01:12

Gitmo victim: ‘Ticking time bomb intel is falsity, people say anything to stop torture’

Former Bagram and Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, who was subject to abuse and mentioned in the Senate committee report, dismissed claims that CIA torture could be justified, sharing his own experience with RT. He once made up facts to end the torture.

READ MORE: 10 most shocking facts we found in CIA torture report

Begg was released without charge after nearly three years in custody – first at Afghanistan’s Bagram base, then at Guantanamo Bay prison. He says he was beaten there and deprived of sleep. Begg is now living in the UK, campaigning for the rights of detainees.

RT:How close was the cooperation between US and UK intelligence in the post-9/11 era? Is it possible that London was unaware of the CIA’s torture tactics?

Moazzam Begg:
No, they were both working hand in glove. I was at every leg of my journey – whether it was being held in Pakistan by the Secret Intelligence Services along with the CIA , or whether it was at Bagram or Kandahar, which were the US military detention sites, or at Guantanamo – I was interrogated by MI5 and MI6 agents more times than I can remember. And so were the 15 other British citizens or residents...In fact, one, who’s still there, Shaker Aamer, he maintains that his head was repeatedly smashed against the wall in the Bagram facility in Afghanistan while MI5 agents looked on. So we have no doubt in our minds at all that the British intelligence services were completely involved at every level. And a couple of years ago, actually, a criminal investigation – the first time in British history – began of the MI5 and MI6 agents. You had British police officers going over to Libya, going over to Guantanamo, speaking to us over here, taking testimony from us in relation to what we saw and witnessed from these agents. So it goes right to the top and there’s simply no denying that Britain was involved.

The Senate report mentions specifically that information obtained from you – under torture – by the CIA helped British intelligence capture Al-Qaeda’s top UK operative. Can you comment on that?

MB: Well, I’ve seen that report and I think that it’s just a complete falsity, and I’ll tell you why. It says that a picture was drawn based upon what I had said and that that picture was then taken and used as intelligence. The truth is that I have no idea what the individual looked like. And under torture you would say absolutely anything in order to get people off your back.

AFP Photo / John Moore

RT:So that mention of you in the report is false?

MB: No. The mention of me is correct, but…

RT:What they’ve got from you was false?

MB: Yes. What they got from me was from...I’m trying to explain to you under which circumstance. They had me in a room with my hands tied behind my back to my legs. They were punching and kicking me. They had a hood placed over my head. And they lifted the hood up and waved a picture of a woman and children in front of me and said – while there was a sound of a woman screaming next door, which they led to me to believe was my wife being tortured – they said that if you don’t cooperate with us we’ll send you to Egypt or to Syria. At the end of this process, that’s when I said, 'OK I’ll cooperate. I’ll do whatever you want, I’ll sign documents.' And I did. And this is what numerous people have done in US military custody.

RT:Just to get this straight: did you or did you not lead them to capture Al-Qaeda’s top UK operative? Did you know who this person was?

MB: No, I didn’t. I didn’t know at all. What I did is that they asked me to do this sort of a photo-fit type thing. And I had no idea at all what he looked like, but nonetheless, at least, that got them off my back. And those are the sort of things I think many people did. It wasn’t just me.

A U.S. soldier walks above prison cells at a new detention centre at the U.S. Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul (Reuters / Jonathon Burch)

RT:UK officials say that they would only have asked for information to be redacted out of the report if there had been a threat to national security. Is that a fair point?

MB: You don’t know because when they say this, they’ve argued these cases before in relation to UK security. Let’s not forget – this was torture. This was cruel, abusive, inhumane, and degrading treatment that was taking place. They can argue and say ‘yes, this is what helped to thwart attacks and catch people and so forth.’ The truth is much more sinister. It’s that people have been tortured in ways...at least, the Americans have come clean with that. Britain still remains silent, at best, and at worst, it’s simply covering it up by saying: 'We’re going to have these torture inquiries; we’re going to have this torture investigations.' And in reality, nothing has come up from it. In fact, the inquiry that your report was talking about, the judge-led inquiry by Peter Gibson, was then handed over to the Intelligence and Security Committee, which itself oversees the MI5 agency. So, it’s essentially MI5 policing itself. So, we can’t expect any great deal of transparency coming from over there.

READ MORE: CIA torture: MPs, human rights groups demand judicial inquiry into UK complicity