British ‘link’ in torture case

British special forces troops were involved in the investigation of a man who alleges he was tortured by US agents while held in secret jails for a period of nearly three years, it has been claimed in a report released by Amnesty International.

The claim led to renewed calls from the human rights group for the UK Government to allow a thorough, independent inquiry into all aspects of British involvement with secret “war on terror” detentions, including so-called rendition flights.

There is no suggestion in the report that British troops were themselves involved in torture or interrogation of the man, a Yemeni national who says he was detained by US troops during a sweep of a market place in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004.

But Amnesty noted that the UK personnel apparently did nothing to raise the alarm about the man’s alleged mistreatment at the hands of American interrogators.

The latest report is based on the testimony of Khaled al-Maqtari, a 31-year-old former merchant, who says he was severely tortured while being held in three prisons before his release without charge in May 2007.

Its publication comes just weeks after Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted to Parliament that, contrary to earlier denials, the UK territory of Diego Garcia had been used by US rendition flights carrying detainees.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: “Slowly but surely more information about the ultra-secretive US ‘war on terror’ detentions operation is trickling out and Khaled al-Maqtari’s extremely serious allegations must be met with a serious investigation by both the US and UK authorities.

“A full independent inquiry on both sides of the Atlantic into secret prisons and rendition flights is long overdue and should now happen as soon as possible.

“If his allegations are substantiated, Mr al-Maqtari’s tormentors must be brought to justice and he should receive proper reparation for his horrifying ordeal.”

Mr al-Maqtari told Amnesty that after his seizure, he was taken, handcuffed and hooded, to a military camp near Fallujah, where he was beaten by US soldiers before being transferred by helicopter to Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison. There, he says he was subjected to beatings with sticks while naked, hooded and handcuffed. Loud discordant music was played and he was doused in cold water and forced to hold a heavy box while standing in front of a powerful air-conditioning system.

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