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British Judge rules that detainee can have access to secret documents relating to interrogation

Lord Justice Jeremy Sullivan

Lord Justice Jeremy Sullivan

Jurist reports:

A UK High Court judge ruled Tuesday that British Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee Shaker Aamer must have access to secret documents that may contain evidence of torture. Aamer, the only British citizen remaining at the US military prison, petitioned the court [AP report] for access to the documents, which his lawyers believe show that his confessions were obtained through torture. Lord Justice Jeremy Sullivan ruled [BBC report] that Aamer, detained at Guantanamo since 2002, should have access to the documents, as the US government is currently working to determine whether he should be released. The British government expressed disappointment [AFP report] at the ruling and may try to block the release of the documents on the grounds that it would harm the public interest.

The ruling comes as the British government continues its legal battle to keep secret documents related to the alleged torture of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed [JURIST news archive]. Last month, the UK High Court ruled [JURIST report] that the details of the Mohamed’s detention in Pakistan in 2002 must be released, the latest in a series of back and forth rulings on whether redacted materials regarding Mohamed’s detention should be disclosed. An October interim ruling [JURIST report] by Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Lloyd Jones resulted in a redacted release, which the High Court indicated it would revisit after receiving submissions from both the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) [official website] and Mohamed. Also in November, a separate judge on the High Court ruled that, in Mohamed’s separate suit for damages, information relating to his treatment at Guantanamo Bay may be withheld [JURIST report] under a “closed material procedure.” Mohamed was returned to the UK in February, after charges against him were dismissed in October 2008 [JURIST reports]. Mohamed had been held at Guantanamo Bay for four years, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism [JURIST report].

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.