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Urgent appeal for British resident Binyam Mohamed, “close to suicide” in Guantánamo

Andy Worthington | 18.12.2007 14:13 | Guantánamo | Repression | Terror War | World

An appeal for readers to write to the Foreign Secretary David Miliband to demand the return to the UK from Guantánamo of British resident Binyam Mohamed, who, as his lawyer explains, "may be close to suicide."

Disturbing news from Clive Stafford Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve, who reports that his client Binyam Mohamed “may be close to suicide.”

Mr. Mohamed, 29, is one of five British residents whose return to the UK was requested by the British government in August, but although three of these men – Jamil El-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdulnour Sameur – are expected to return imminently to the UK, and a fourth, Shaker Aamer, has elected to negotiate his repatriation with the Saudi authorities, Mr. Mohamed’s return to the UK was turned down by the US authorities, who remain intent on prosecuting him for an alleged bomb plot in a “war crimes” trial at Guantánamo, even though, as Clive Stafford Smith has repeatedly pointed out, all the supposed “evidence” against him was extracted under torture.

In a medical report commissioned by Reprieve and submitted to David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, Dr Daniel Creson, a psychiatrist from Texas with extensive experience in the treatment of the victims of torture, warns that descriptions of Mr. Mohamed’s recent behaviour in Guantánamo – smearing the walls of his cell with his own faeces – suggest that his mental health is deteriorating, that he is suffering from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he “is reaching the end of his psychological tether.”

In the report submitted to Mr. Miliband, Stafford Smith calls for “urgent humanitarian intervention” on behalf of his client. He adds, “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.”

He continues: “Your Government's intervention on behalf of the British residents in Guantánamo 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 Guantánamo 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.”

After pointing out that his client, who was captured in Pakistan in April 2002, was rendered to Morocco for 18 months, where he repeatedly had his penis cut by interrogators, Stafford Smith concludes his report as follows: “Once he got to Guantánamo 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.”

Readers are encouraged to write to David Miliband ( to request that he insists on Mr. Mohamed’s return to the UK.

This is the text of Mr. Stafford Smith’s letter that accompanied the report:

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 Guantánamo 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 [proxy torturers] in Pakistan and Morocco, and by US personnel themselves in the Dark Prison of Kabul and in Guantánamo 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.
Yours sincerely,
Clive Stafford Smith

Note: For more on Binyam Mohamed and the other British residents in Guantánamo, see my previous article:

Andy Worthington
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