Church of Scotland ‘deplores’ use of torture

The Church of Scotland has affirmed its opposition to torture following reports that British intelligence agency MI5 colluded in the abuse of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.

The Government lost its bid this week to stop the disclosure of information indicating that MI5 knew Mr Mohamed, a British resident, was being abused at the hands of the CIA. The Government had tried to block the release of the intelligence on grounds of national security.

A summary of evidence released by three Court of Appeal judges on Wednesday accuses MI5 of misleading Parliament and of being aware that Mr Mohamed had been treated in a way that was “at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading” whilst being interrogated by the CIA.

The seven-paragraph summary says MI5 knew Mr Mohamed had been deprived of sleep and threatened during interrogation, despite telling a committee of MPs last year that it was not aware of the torture of detainees.

Mr Mohamed claims the British Government colluded with the CIA by feeding questions to his interrogators while the alleged abuse was taking place.

The Rev Ian Galloway, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, expressed “serious concern” over the reports.

“We would urge the British Government to set an example, and to repudiate all forms of interrogation which degrade the humanity of any person,” he said.

He pointed to a ruling by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland last year affirming that the use of torture or ‘enhanced interrogation’ was to be “deplored under any circumstance”.

There are concerns that the court ruling has complicated intelligence-sharing between the US and UK. White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said the US was “deeply disappointed” by the decision, while the US director of national intelligence Dennis Blair said it would “create additional challenges”.

Court of Appeal judges are deciding whether to publish the full evidence next week. MI5 director general Jonathan Evans denied the claims made against MI5 in an article in Daily Telegraph.

He said: “We did not practise mistreatment or torture and do not do so now, nor do we collude in torture or encourage others to torture on our behalf.”