[Pnews] UK rendition victim released after ten years in secret US custody

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 15 11:49:05 EDT 2014

*UK rendition victim released after ten years in secret US custody*

The US has released Yunus Rahmatullah, a Pakistani citizen held at 
Bagram Airbase for ten years without charge, trial, or access to a 
lawyer after his capture by British forces in Iraq and subsequent 
rendition to Afghanistan in 2004.

After years of government denials that the UK had been involved in any 
rendition operations, Mr Rahmatullah's capture by British forces was 
finally revealed to Parliament in February 2009 by then-Secretary of 
State for Defence John Hutton. Despite admitting playing a part in Mr 
Rahmatullah's illegal detention and transfer, the government persisted 
in refusing to assist him. As a result legal action was brought on Mr 
Rahmatullah's behalf.

The UK government subsequently revealed that British officials were 
aware of a US intention to transfer Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to 
Afghanistan at the time, yet did nothing to prevent it. In 2012, the UK 
Supreme Court suggested that his rendition may have amounted to a war 
crime, stating:

"The, presumably forcible, transfer of Mr Rahmatullah from Iraq to 
Afghanistan is, at least prima facie, a breach of article 49 [of the 
fourth Geneva Convention].  On that account alone, his continued 
detention post-transfer is unlawful." Mr Rahmatullah is said to be in a 
grave mental and physical condition as a result of sustained abuse in UK 
and subsequently US custody.

The news comes as the US Senate's Intelligence Committee prepares to 
release its long-awaited report on the use of torture by the CIA, which 
is expected to implicate UK officials in the abuses of the 'war on terror.'

Legal charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day have brought legal 
proceedings on Mr Rahmatullah's behalf to force the UK government fully 
to investigate his rendition and torture.

Kat Craig, Legal Director at Reprieve, said: "After ten years of 
unimaginable abuse and imprisonment at the hands the British and US 
forces, Yunus Rahmatullah deserves a full investigation into the 
circumstances of his capture. He must receive justice, so that he and 
his family can move on and return to some semblance of their old, 
peaceful life. As its pernicious role in the worst abuses of the 'war on 
terror' continues to come to light, the British government must hold its 
hands up and right the wrongs of the past."


Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve's Press Office on: 
alice.gillham at reprieve.org.uk <mailto:alice.gillham at reprieve.org.uk> / 
+44 (0) 207 553 8160/ +44 (0)7792 351 660

2. The 2012 Supreme Court judgment is available on request.

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