The Great Debate UK

Britain’s torture memos: keeping up appearances


daniel gorevan- Daniel Gorevan is head of Amnesty International‘s Counter Terror with Justice campaign. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Tony Blair’s government reportedly advised MI5 officers that the UK must not be “seen to condone” torture. However, evidence is mounting that British agents knowingly exploited torture perpetrated by others.

Take the case of Khaled al Maqtari, a Yemeni arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004. He told Amnesty International that he was frogmarched from a “torture room” at Abu Ghraib out to a UK special forces jeep, huddled in a wet blanket, with the marks of beatings clearly visible on his body.

The British agents did not mistreat him, but neither did they make any effort to find out what had happened to him. Instead they drove him through the darkened streets of Baghdad, asking him to identify suspect locations, before returning him at dawn to Abu Ghraib. Three days later he disappeared into the CIA’s secret jails, not to resurface for more than two years.