British intelligence agencies were involved in the torture and kidnap of terrorism suspects after 9/11 revealing links to torture and rendition were much more widespread than previously reported.
The reports say the overseas agency MI6 and the domestic service MI5 were involved in hundreds of torture cases and scores of rendition cases. The committee says the agencies were aware “at an early point” of the mistreatment of detainees by the US and others. There were two cases in which UK personnel were “party to mistreatment administered by others”.
UK personnel continued to supply questions or intelligence to other services despite knowledge or suspicion of mistreatment. UK personnel received intelligence from liaison services which had been obtained from detainees who knew they had been mistreated – or with no indication as to how the detainee had been treated but where we consider they should have suspected mistreatment. The report says those at headquarters were aware of reports of mistreatment by the US but did not take them seriously.
“That the US, and others, were mistreating detainees is beyond doubt, as is the fact that the agencies and defence intelligence were aware of this at an early point,” the report says.
The chair of the committee, Dominic Grieve, said because it had been denied access to key intelligence individuals by the prime minister, the committee had reluctantly decided to bring the inquiry to a premature end. Had the inquiry continued, the committee would have called the then home secretary David Blunkett and Straw to explain what they understood to be the situation at the time and why a briefing was not requested.
The reports say evidence of the direct involvement of MI6 officers and a British military officer in the mistreatment of detainees at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan was withheld from the intelligence committee in the past. This involved sleep deprivation, starvation and the use of stress positions. The committee said it had wanted to interview the MI6 officers involved but said: “The government has denied us access to those individuals.”
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