The intelligence agencies of the UK are under investigation for their potential involvement in the CIA’s covert program of torture and rendition after the events of 9/11.
The IPT has announced a second inquiry into claims that the intelligence agencies were complicit in the mistreatment of a prisoner held by the US.
On Friday, a court known for its secrecy announced that it will review a complaint submitted on behalf of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a citizen of Saudi Arabia currently detained at the US military facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
Nashiri, who is alleged by the US to have plotted al-Qaida’s bombing of an American naval ship in Yemen, was captured by the CIA in 2002 and transferred to Guantánamo in 2006. He has been held in indefinite detention ever since.
Attorneys representing Nashiri claim that it can be strongly inferred that the UK’s intelligence organizations, such as MI5, MI6, and GCHQ, were involved in sharing intelligence about al-Nashiri and were involved in his torture and mistreatment.
IPT’s choice to look into the accusations follows their decision in May to review a comparable allegation made by Mustafa al-Hawsawi, a detainee at Guantánamo.
The IPT, a specialized court that handles complaints against intelligence services, stated in its recent decision that the fundamental matters in both cases are extremely serious.
The lawyers representing the UK government attempted to convince the tribunal that Nashiri’s complaint was no longer valid, but a group of judges determined that it was important for these matters to be addressed, similar to how Hawsawi’s case is being reviewed.
The Independent Panel on Terrorism (IPT) possesses special authority to access confidential documents from intelligence agencies. These agencies are now obligated to provide the tribunal with records related to the UK’s collaboration with the CIA.
The cases presented to the IPT show that concerns about the UK’s involvement in the CIA’s mistreatment of detainees still have a significant impact on British intelligence, even after over 20 years since the start of the covert detention program.
In 2018, the committee responsible for overseeing intelligence activities in parliament determined that the UK’s spy agencies had participated in the CIA’s abduction and mistreatment of individuals suspected of terrorism. The government subsequently reneged on its promise to conduct a public inquiry led by a judge regarding this matter.
After the investigation conducted by the parliamentary committee, attorneys from Sternberg Reed submitted a grievance to the IPT, contending that Nashiri was a person of “particular interest” to British intelligence during the 2000s.
Based on a US Senate probe of the CIA’s detention system, al-Nashiri endured multiple instances of torture during his time in the agency’s undisclosed prisons, commonly referred to as black sites.
The methods known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were used on him consisted of waterboarding, simulated executions, and “rectal feeding”, which was deemed by medical professionals to be a type of brutal sexual assault.
Nashiri is currently awaiting a trial in a military court for a case involving the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which resulted in the deaths of 17 American sailors. Recently, a UN panel on human rights demanded his prompt release.
In response to the IPT’s ruling, Hugh Southey KC, the barrister representing Nashiri, expressed concerns about the UK’s involvement in his client’s treatment. He also welcomed the decision to conduct an independent review of the actions of UK services.