MI5 made secret deals in Guantanamo – newspaper

Guantanamo Bay (AFP Photo / Pool / Brennan Linsley )
The British secret service, MI5, tried to hire British nationals held in Guantanamo Bay and various other US prison camps, reports 'The Independent' newspaper.

The MI5 promised freedom and protection from their American captors and safe travel home if they were willing to work undercover for the secret service.

According to a former agent, one man, Richard Belmar was told that he would be compensated for working undercover for the MI5. Another, Bisher Al Rawi, was promised to be “freed within months” if he worked for them.

Some were threatened with harsh detention if they refused to cooperate.

However, MI5 seems to have failed to honor its word, says a former agent who was close to the officers involved.

According to the agent, the MI5 officers who were working with the detainees made 'assurances' that London had approved, but then reneged on the promises.

“The agents fear they will be hung out to dry. This is not the first time that field agents have been made to carry the can even when there is a paper trail all the way to the top authorizing the action and conduct of the agents," said the source.

The recruitment effort was taking place at the same time the British government was supporting the American contention that the detainees being held at the US base presented a serious threat to security.

"These allegations show the extent of MI5's involvement with those people who were illegally abducted and held in Guantanamo Bay. It's increasingly clear that Britain must have known much more about American practices at Guantanamo Bay, including water-boarding, than they are prepared to admit," said Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrats' spokesman on foreign affairs.

According to papers presented to the High Court  two officers from MI5, known as "Andrew and Officer B" attempted to recruit Mr. Belmar when he was being held by the Americans in Pakistan in 2002.

The detainee had the understanding that he would take part in some training courses at MI5 headquarters. When the officers informed him he would be returned to England for the training sessions he was instead, on the day of his release, transferred to Guantanamo Bay.

Al Rawi, the detainee already in Cuba, was approached by two different agents who brought him to McDonalds and took off his handcuffs and shackles, and offered him a job working for the service. If he agreed, they were to release him in only a few months.

The papers also show that another detainee was approached in Afghanistan in 2002 and offered a trip home if he cooperated with the MI5 and the United States interrogators. Moazzam Begg, who was released in 2005, made similar claims.

All together, five men and two other former Guantanamo detainees are seeking compensation from many entities, including the Attorney General, MI5, MI6, Foreign Office, and Home Office, according to the newspaper.

A spokesperson from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that Government could not comment at this time.