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Britain discloses secret data on detainee abuse

LONDON — Britain was forced by an appeals court Wednesday to reveal a long-secret description of how a former terrorism suspect was beaten, shackled and deprived of sleep during interrogations by U.S. agents.

Ethiopia-born British resident Binyam Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002, and says he was tortured there and in Morocco before being flown to Guantanamo Bay and charged with plotting with al-Qaida to bomb American apartment buildings.

The seven-paragraph description is a judge's summary of classified information shared by the CIA with the UK's MI5 intelligence service during Mohamed's questioning in Pakistan in May 2002.

British government has repeatedly denied complicity in torture, and claimed that revealing the information would damage U.S.-British intelligence cooperation.

Mohamed's lawyers claimed the seven paragraphs prove that the U.S. and British governments were complicit in extracting evidence against him through torture. They have been fighting for access to the documents along with The Associated Press and other news organizations.

The paragraphs posted on the Web site of the British Foreign Office after the court decision say Mohamed was subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities," including sleep deprivation, shackling and threats resulting in mental stress and suffering, during interviews by U.S. authorities.

They conclude that the paragraphs given to MI5, "made clear to anyone reading them that BM (Mohamed) was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment."

The charges against Mohamed were later dropped.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the rights group Liberty, said a "full and broad" public inquiry into British complicity in torture is needed in light of the information contained in the newly released paragraphs.

"It shows the British authorities knew far more than they let on about Binyam Mohamed and how he was tortured in U.S. custody," she said. "It is clear from these seven paragraphs that our authorities knew very well what was happening to Mr. Mohamed. Our hands are very dirty indeed."

She said it is now evident that British authorities were complicit in the use of torture and benefited from it.

The appeals court decision upheld a High Court ruling ordering officials to release the summary. The Foreign Office appealed that ruling, but said Wednesday it would abide by the latest judgment.

"The wider point here is that we stand firmly against torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. We don't condone, collude in or solicit it," Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman Simon Lewis told reporters following the decision.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband restated the government's backing for the principle that "if a country shares intelligence with another, that country must agree before its intelligence is released."

Miliband said the case "has been followed carefully at the highest level in the United States with concern," and said he had spoken to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the judgment on Tuesday.

Miliband told the House of Commons that a possible restriction of intelligence sharing between the U.S. and Britain was "of grave concern."

"It is too early to come to this House and say there will be no such effect, we need to work to ensure that is the case," Miliband said.

Miliband pointed out that a major reason for the judges' ruling was that details of Mohamed's abuse have already been made public in a U.S. court, during a hearing about another Guantanamo detainee.

Mohamed, 31, moved to Britain as a teenager. He was arrested as a terrorist suspect in 2002 in Karachi by Pakistani forces and later transferred to Morocco, Afghanistan and in 2004 to Guantanamo Bay.

He says he was tortured in Pakistan, and that interrogators in Morocco beat him, deprived him of sleep and sliced his genitals with a scalpel.

It isn't clear which country the interrogators in Morocco were from, but Mohamed has alleged the questions put to him could only have come from British intelligence agents.

MI5 has said it did not know Mohamed was being tortured, or held in Morocco.

The case in Britain began in 2008 when Mohamed was facing a military trial at Guantanamo. His lawyers sued the British government for intelligence documents they said could prove that evidence against him had been gathered under torture.

He was sent back to Britain in in February 2009 after the charges against him were dropped. That chain of events led to the lawsuit becoming a larger battle for access to information involving the AP, Guardian News and Media, the BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other media organizations.

Mohamed is among 12 former terror detainees suing the British government, accusing the security services of "aiding and abetting" their extraordinary rendition, unlawful imprisonment and torture.