Jack Straw ‘re-writing history’ over torture allegations – Reprieve

Former British foreign minister Jack Straw. © Paul Hackett
Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has been accused by the human rights charity Reprieve of ‘re-writing history’ of the UK’s complicity in torture.

As claims by recently-released Guantanamo detainee of 14 years Shaker Aamer have emerged, Straw is reported to have claimed “the British government never condoned, nor was complicit in, the torture or ill-treatment of detainees, wherever they were held.

Reprieve, which has long campaigned on post 9/11 rendition and torture activities, says Straw’s claims are “directly at odds with a range of evidence.

The allegations include a claim by Aamer that he was tortured in the presence of a British intelligence agent, who identified himself as “John,” while Straw was foreign secretary – meaning he was privy to foreign intelligence at the time.

Mr Straw’s claims seem to be an attempt to re-write history,” Reprieve director Cori Crider wrote in a blog on Monday.

Reprieve also raised the issue of Abdul-hakim Belhaj, a Libyan dissident who claims to have been rendered with UK help from Bangkok to the torture chambers of the late-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2004.

His then-pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar and the couple’s children were also rendered and imprisoned.

We already know that Britain was complicit in the US torture program – the only questions remaining are how far this went, who knew about it, and who signed it off,” Crider said.

As the minister responsible for MI6 when it helped render a pregnant woman and four young children to Gaddafi’s prisons, maybe Mr Straw could start giving us some answers,” she added.

Reprieve also pointed to a 2009 High Court finding in the case of another rendition victim, Binyam Mohamed, as evidence.

The court found “the relationship of the United Kingdom government to the United States authorities in connection with Binyam Mohamed was far beyond that of a bystander or witness to the alleged wrongdoing.

Both Straw and the British government strenuously deny any complicity in torture.