Man says he was tortured in Pakistan
LONDON, Sept 20: A British citizen told a magistrate’s court here that during a year in captivity in Pakistan he suffered sleep deprivation and severe beatings, and that three fingernails were extracted from his left hand.
Rangzieb Ahmed said on Wednesday that before being put aboard a plane to Heathrow this month, he was questioned by British and US officials as well as by Pakistani intelligence officers who allegedly tortured him.
After Mr Ahmed appeared before City of Westminster magistrates charged with three offences under the Terrorism Act 2000, his lawyer said outside court that government officials had no excuse for not being aware that British citizens faced torture if detained in Pakistan, and they had a legal responsibility to protect them.
The Guardian reporting the proceedings on Thursday said that Mr Ahmed’s allegations resembled those of another British citizen, Salahuddin Amin who said he was beaten, whipped and threatened with an electric drill, possibly in the same prison in Rawalpindi. Amin, 33, was jailed for life this year after the Old Bailey heard evidence that he was one of a group of men planning a huge bomb attack in the south-east of England.
His counsel suggested of the jury that his mistreatment showed that both sides in the so-called war on terror had come “to share common standards of illegality and immorality”.
Amin’s lawyers are planning to appeal against his conviction, and say they will be bringing a civil action against the British government.
Mr Ahmed claims to have been working for an earthquake relief organisation when he was detained in August last year by officials of Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) agency.
After being blindfolded and shackled, he was taken to an underground detention centre where he was questioned about Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and the July 7 bomber Shehzad Tanweer.
Mr Ahmed says a CCTV camera was in the room where he was tortured, and fresh questions to be put to him were written on slips of paper which were passed into the room from outside.
The Foreign Office confirmed that although consular officials had been denied access to Mr Ahmed, other officials from the high commission in Islamabad were allowed to see him.
A spokeswoman said he had seemed well and made no complaint. “Mr Ahmed’s welfare was always a priority.”
Asked about allegations of the British complicity in his alleged torture, she said: “The British government doesn’t condone the use of torture.”
Under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act it is illegal for British officials to commission acts of torture anywhere, or even to acquiesce in the face of torture. The crime can be punished by life imprisonment.
After arrest, Mr Ahmed was questioned by detectives from Greater Manchester police for 12 days before being charged. He is accused of directing an organisation concerned in the commission of acts of terrorism; possessing three books for purposes of terrorism; and possessing a rucksack containing traces of explosives.