U.S. sought ex-Guantanamo detainee's silence-court

LONDON, March 23 Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:09pm IST

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. government lawyers tried to get a British resident held at Guantanamo Bay to sign a deal saying he had never been tortured and that he would not speak to the media as a condition of his release, according to documents presented in Britain's High Court.

U.S. lawyers also wanted Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen held at Guantanamo for more than 4 years, to plead guilty to secure his freedom, even though he was never charged with a crime, according to documents released by two judges who ruled in the High Court case.

The documents, relating to a ruling the judges made last October, reveal the U.S. military wanted Mohamed to agree not to sue the United States or any of its allies, and that any rights to compensation should be assigned to the U.S. government.

"The accused agrees not to participate in or support in any manner any litigation or challenge, in any forum, against the United States or any other nation or any official of any nation, whether military or civilian..." a draft plea agreement put forward by U.S. government lawyers in 2008 stated.

"The accused assigns to the United States all legal rights to sign and submit any necessary documents, motions or pleadings to implement this provision on behalf of the accused," a key clause in the agreement read.

The proposed agreement was contained in documents brought before the High Court in October, when the court ruled that documents relating to Mohamed's case could not be released because it might jeopardise national security agreements between Britain and the United States.

Mohamed's lawyers rejected the agreement and Mohamed was eventually released last month with almost no conditions.

The British government is understood to have opposed the conditions and helped fight them until they were dropped.

"The facts revealed today reflect the way the U.S. government has consistently tried to cover up the truth of Binyam Mohamed's torture," said Clive Stafford-Smith, a lawyer for Mohamed and director of the human rights charity Reprieve.

"Gradually the truth is leaking out, and the governments on both sides of the Atlantic should pause to consider whether they should continue to fight to keep this torture evidence secret."

"TORTURE AND ABUSE"

A converted Muslim, Mohamed, 30, was a British resident when he travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in mid-2001, a trip he says he undertook to overcome a drug addiction.

His detention began in April 2002 when he was seized trying to leave Pakistan on a false passport. He says he was tortured while in custody there, with the knowledge of British intelligence officers, before being flown to Morocco on a CIA plane.

He was held in Morocco for nearly two years, during which time he says he was further tortured and abused, including being asked questions he says could only have been supplied by British intelligence officers. Britain denies involvement in torture.

He was subsequently flown to Afghanistan, where he was held by the Americans and, he says, subjected to more torture and abuse, before being taken to Guantanamo Bay in Sept. 2004.

During his 6-1/2 years in detention Mohamed says he was subjected to "waterboarding", or simulated drowning, and had his genitals cut with a scalpel. The United States denies torture.

After his seizure, Mohamed was accused of receiving training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the United States linked him to a "dirty bomb" plot. But charges against him were dropped and he was freed on Feb. 23, 2009.

Since his return to Britain, Mohamed has spoken to media and repeated his accusations. While he is now free, Mohamed has agreed to some conditions, including a commitment never to travel to the United States. He has not yet decided whether to sue U.S. or British authorities.

(editing by Kate Kelland and Ralph Boulton)

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