Guantanamo detainee’s lawyers want statement ignored after torture claim

Lawyers for one of the Britons imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay have filed a unique pleading demanding that the US does not use witness statements allegedly obtained by torture against their client.

The pleading is a result of the declassification of a
four-page letter written by Moazzam Begg to his counsel Gareth Peirce and Clive Stafford Smith, winner of the lifetime achievement award at The Lawyer Awards 2003, as well as US and UK authorities, in July this year. The uncensored letter, which has been declassified by the US, details torture and abuse suffered by Begg through his imprisonment in Afghanistan and Cuba.

Begg also claims that statements due to be used against him in a forthcoming tribunal hearing “were signed and initialled under duress”. His lawyers will argue that they are thus inadmissable, and will ask that the abusive treatment alleged by Begg ceases.

Stafford Smith told The Lawyer that he could find no legal precedent for the pleading, and that in preparing it he had to refer back to cases heard in Mississippi in 1910.

He added: “We’re filing immediately to compel the US to let us declassify the other evidence. This letter is the tip of the iceberg.”