MI5 lawyer to be grilled by MPs over UK’s role in Guantanamo ‘torture’

Chain link fence and concertina wire surrounds a deserted guard tower within Joint Task Force Guantanamo's Camp Delta at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. © Lucas Jackson
MI5’s top lawyer is to answer questions in Parliament over whether the intelligence agency knew about the alleged use of torture at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

MPs will ask the lawyer to give evidence about the alleged torture and rendition of terrorist suspects during the ‘War on Terror.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is investigating claims MI5 held secret “torture meetings” in 2002 during which interrogation practices at Guantanamo were discussed.

Former attorney general and ISC chair Dominic Grieve said the inquiry would investigate “unanswered questions” in relation to Britain’s role in rendition.

Our longer-term priority is the substantial inquiry into the role of the UK government and security and intelligence agencies in relation to detainee treatment and rendition, where there are still unanswered questions,” he said shortly after his appointment to committee chair last October.

The Sunday Times reports the lawyer asked to give evidence to the inquiry would have access to the files and records from that period.

Previous attempts to charge British spies over their involvement in rendition flights – where suspected terrorists were flown to undisclosed locations and tortured – have failed to progress.

In June, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced no charges would be brought against MI6 over the 2004 rendition of Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj due to “insufficient evidence.”

Another dissident, Sami al-Saadi, was also mentioned in the documents. He too was imprisoned and claims to have been tortured.

Both men say UK spies were present for their interrogations by Libyan secret services.

Al-Saadi reportedly received a £2.2 million (US$2.9 million at current rates) payout from the UK, while Belhaj wants the British to make a formal apology to his wife, who was pregnant when she was taped to a stretcher and flown from Thailand to Libya following the MI6 tip-off that betrayed the couple.