Article by Ian Cobain - The Guardian
Ex-civil servant to sue home secretary over alleged complicity in beatings
The home secretary Jacqui Smith faces legal action over allegations that MI5 agents colluded in the torture of a British former civil servant by Bangladeshi intelligence officers.
Lawyers for the British man, Jamil Rahman, are to file a damages claim alleging that Smith was complicit in assault, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment and breaches of human rights legislation over his alleged ill-treatment while detained in Bangladesh.
The claims bring to three the number of countries in which British intelligence agents have been accused of colluding in the torture of UK nationals. Rahman says that he was the victim of repeated beatings over a period of more than two years at the hands of Bangladeshi intelligence officers, and he claims that a pair of MI5 officers were blatantly involved in his ordeal.
The two men would leave the room where he was being interrogated whenever he refused to answer their questions, he says, and he would be severely beaten. They would then return to the room to resume the interrogation.
On occasion, he adds, his wife would be held in a nearby cell, and his torturers would threaten to rape her if he did not cooperate. Rahman's lawyers say that there is a wealth of evidence to support his allegations, including eyewitness testimony and medical evidence. Rahman was also able to provide his lawyers with the number of a mobile telephone that he says was used by one of the MI5 officers and a number for MI5 in London.
Rahman remains deeply traumatised, and is receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. His lawyer, Imran Khan, wrote to Smith last week putting her on notice of the intention to start proceedings. Smith and MI5 declined to comment; the Home Office said it would respond to Khan in due course.
Rahman's allegations follow recent claims of British collusion in the torture of a British citizen in Egypt, and growing evidence that MI5 officers have aided and abetted in the torture of several people in Pakistan.
Two high court judges say they have seen what they describe as "powerful evidence" of the torture by Pakistani agents of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who was questioned by MI5 after being beaten and deprived of sleep, and was later "rendered" to Morocco for even more brutal torture.
In another case, MI5 and Greater Manchester Police drew up a list of questions for officers of a notorious intelligence agency to put to Rangzieb Ahmed while he was illegally detained in Pakistan.
Several other men have come forward to say they have been questioned by British intelligence officers after being tortured by Pakistani agents. Not all have gone on to be charged or convicted of terrorism: some have been innocent people who were released without charge.
The alleged complicity of the MI5 officers who failed to report or do anything to prevent torture appears to be in line with a secret government-approved interrogation policy at the time. Gordon Brown has ordered a review of the policy, but there have been numerous calls for an independent inquiry into the affair.
Among those demanding an inquiry are opposition leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg; Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions; Lord Carlile of Berriew, the government's independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation; Lord Howe, foreign secretary in the Thatcher government, and Lord Guthrie, former chief of defence staff.
Rahman, 31, settled in Bangladesh in 2005 after marrying a woman he met while travelling in the country.
He returned to the UK last year and embarked upon legal action once his wife and child were able to join him earlier this month.
Rahman has not been questioned by police since his return, no attempt has been made to arrest him and he has not been subjected to a control order.