UK Politics

UK 'did not seek torture redactions' from CIA report - MPs

A Guantanamo Bay detainee being walked along by two guards, with more guards looking on Image copyright AP
Image caption Many US detainees after 9/11 were held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba

The UK did not attempt to conceal complicity in the mistreatment of detainees by requesting redactions from a US Senate report, a report says.

The Intelligence and Security Committee said it found no evidence to support such claims after being given access to relevant files by M15 and M16.

Redactions made only related to general matters of national security, it said.

The Senate report found there had been "brutal" treatment of al-Qaeda suspects in the wake of 9/11.

December's report, which claimed that the CIA had misled the US public about its alleged use of torture, contained no reference to UK agencies.

Ministers have insisted they did not ask for any details about the UK security services to be removed from the report.

Speaking in December, Home Secretary Theresa May said she had not personally asked for any information to be blacked out and "any such request will only have been in relation to the need to ensure that nothing damages our national security".

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), made up of MPs and peers and reporting to the prime minister, said it believed this was correct, based on its examination of relevant documents held by the UK's security services and interviews with intelligence chiefs.

National security

However, it made clear this did not have any bearing on the wider question of whether the UK's security and intelligence agencies had been in any way complicit in the mistreatment of detainees, which is the subject of an ongoing inquiry.

"It has been alleged that the UK may have requested redactions to the Senate report to conceal evidence of UK complicity in the mistreatment of detainees," the committee said in a statement.

"From the evidence we have seen and heard, we conclude that these allegations are unfounded."

It added: "The UK agencies did request redactions to the primary material which was used by the Senate Committee when drafting its full report.

"We have seen these requests and can confirm that all were directly related to national security interests. They do not concern UK involvement or complicity in, or awareness of, the mistreatment of detainees."

The CIA sought redactions relating to UK intelligence material from the executive summary of the Senate report, the committee stated.

'No teeth'

While it believed these concerned general security matters, it said details were "limited" and the UK had only been shown "heavily-edited extracts" from the report prior to publication rather than the draft report in full.

The committee said it had not sought any information so far from the US authorities as part of its inquiry but may do so in the future.

Amnesty International said the committee's assurances "were far from satisfactory".

"Instead of the ISC doing ad hoc reviews and talking privately to intelligence chiefs, the question of possible collusion over redactions between the UK and the USA should form part of a fully independent, judge-led inquiry," said campaign manager Tom Davies.

"The ISC is a body without teeth, which shouldn't have been entrusted with the vital job of investigating allegations of the UK's complicity in kidnap, detention and torture overseas."

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