A British resident being held in Guantanamo Bay may be close to suicide after five years of captivity and torture at the hands of the Americans, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband has been warned in a medical report sent to the Government this week.
The report concludes that Binyam Mohamed, from Kensington, west London, is at the end of his “psychological tether” after guards at the US naval base in Cuba switched off the water supply to his cell when he began spreading his own faeces over the walls. Mr Mohamed is one of at least seven detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay who claim British residency. Three of the men are expected to be reunited with their families before Christmas after the Government successfully negotiated their release. But the Americans have made it clear that Mr Mohamed must remain in detention to face a military tribunal on charges of terrorism.
In his letter to Mr Miliband, Clive Stafford Smith, the legal director of the UK-based Reprieve representing Mr Mohamed, now 29, calls for an “urgent humanitarian intervention” in his case.
Mr Stafford Smith said: “The urgency is underlined today because Mr Mohamed has been repeatedly smearing his cell walls with faeces. This is not because Mr Mohamed is trying to violate the rules (as the US military apparently believes), but because of his mental instability. The military’s response is to cut the water to his cell off, compounding an obvious health hazard.”
A preliminary medical opinion, commissioned by Reprieve, has found Mr Mohamed to be suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Dr Daniel Creson, a respected psychiatrist from Texas who has extensive experience in the treatment of the victims of torture, warns that the deterioration in Mr Mohamed’s health suggests that he “is reaching the end of his psychological tether”.
Mr Stafford Smith told Mr Miliband: “Your Government’s intervention on behalf of the British residents in Guantanamo has been welcome. Perhaps my other three clients will spend this festive season at home with their families, after many years of incarceration without trial. Mr Mohamed will spend it in a cell smeared with faeces. There is no prisoner in Guantanamo who has suffered more than Mr Mohamed, and I am very concerned that, without rapid intervention, he will only leave that terrible place in a casket.”
Mr Mohamed was born in Ethiopia and came to Britain in 1994, where he lived for seven years, sought political asylum and was given leave to remain while his case was resolved. But while travelling he was arrested in Pakistan on a visa violation and turned over to the US authorities. On 21 July 2002 Mr Mohamed was rendered to Morocco on a CIA plane. His lawyers claim he has endured years of torture in which has been physically abused, including having his genitals cut with a razor blade.
Mr Stafford Smith said: “Once he got to Guantanamo Bay, far from receiving the palliative care that this history of torture would call for, he has faced on-going mistreatment —held in solitary confinement in a Supermax prison, physically abused, and deprived of any meaningful treatment. Please do not let the US military public relations delude anybody, as the prison he is in is harsher than any of the many Death Row prisons I have visited in the past 25 years.”
Dr Creson’s medical evaluation was based on interviews with Mr Mohamed and a mental health questionnaire completed with the help of Reprieve
A Foreign Office spokesman declined to comment on the case.
A letter to David Miliband
Dear Mr Miliband,
There is an urgent need for humanitarian intervention on behalf of Binyam Mohamed, the British resident from Kensington who the US apparently plans to continue holding in Guantanamo Bay, and who I am representing in his habeas corpus proceedings.
As we hope to see three British residents home in the next few days, Mr Mohamed’s plight becomes ever more stark. I am sure that you are aware that Mr Mohamed has suffered torture and abuse by US foederati in Pakistan and Morocco, and by US personnel themselves in the Dark Prison of Kabul and in GuantÃ¡namo Bay itself. That the Bush Administration continues to deny its role in the torture and inhuman treatment of prisoners such as Mr Mohamed is, sad to say, simply dishonest.
…I doubt either you or I ever thought we would be dealing with the consequences of torture committed by the US on someone from Britain. It is sad that this is the case, but our horror must motivate us into vigorous action.