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Brown rejects judge-led inquiry into UK spies

Brown rejects judge-led inquiry into UK spies

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday declined a request by opposition parties to authorize a judge-led inquiry into the conduct of U.K. intelligence agencies in supporting the U.S. government's pursuit of terror suspects since 2001.
Lawmakers in Britain, the U.S. and Europe have raised concerns over the extent to which the U.K. and other allies of Washington have been complicit in the extraordinary rendition, secret detention and alleged mistreatment of suspected terrorists.
David Cameron, leader of Britain's main opposition Conservative Party, and Alex Carlile, a House of Lords member who advises the government on anti-terrorism laws, have both called for a judge-led inquiry into Britain's actions.
But Brown said Britain's Intelligence and Security Committee _ a panel of lawmakers which meets in private _ has considered issues of rendition and the conduct of intelligence staff.
"Britain, because of our defense of freedom and liberty, wishes to be seen to be doing everything in our power about questions that arise about the use of torture or rendition, but I believe that the Intelligence and Security committee at this stage is the best way to proceed," Brown told lawmakers.
In a report written last month, the U.N. special expert on human rights, Martin Scheinin, named Britain among countries which had aided the U.S. in carrying out extraordinary renditions by offering intelligence about suspects or detaining individuals on behalf of American authorities.
Brown said police could investigate allegations that British intelligence agents colluded in the torture of terror suspects overseas. He told lawmakers in the House of Commons that the country's chief legal adviser will refer cases to police if officials need to account for their actions.
Ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed alleges he was tortured while held in Pakistan and Morocco and claims British intelligence officers were aware of his treatment.
Brown said that Attorney General Patricia Scotland is reviewing Mohamed's allegations and will call on the police to prosecute intelligence officers found to have broken laws.
"I have instructed where allegations are made about torture they must be properly examined, including if necessary by the courts," Brown told lawmakers in the House of Commons. "I've made it clear, that there is a next stage _ if there is any evidence that should lead to a police investigation, that evidence must be referred to the police."
Mohamed, an Ethiopian who moved to Britain when he was a teenager, was arrested in Pakistan in 2002. He claims he was tortured both there and in Morocco _ where he alleges he was sent to be detained by U.S. officials.
An officer from Britain's domestic spy agency, MI5 ,interviewed Mohamed in Pakistan, but the officer insists he was not aware that Mohamed had been mistreated.
Guantanamo Bay detainee Shaker Aamer, a Saudi-born former British resident, also claims Britain may have had a role in his mistreatment. He alleges that a British security officer was present when he was beaten while held by U.S. forces at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.


Updated : 2021-04-19 18:16 GMT+08:00