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British lawmakers call for inquiry into torture allegations LONDON: The British government was hiding behind
British lawmakers call for inquiry into torture allegations
LONDON: The British government was hiding
behind a “wall of secrecy” over allegations
security agents colluded in the torture of ter-
rorism suspects, an influential committee of
lawmakers said yesterday. The Joint Committee
on Human Rights urged an independent inquiry
into claims of British knowledge of use of torture
on suspects held overseas, branding government
accountability of the issues “woefully deficient.”
In a report, the committee said such an inquiry
was the only way of restoring public confidence
in intelligence and security agencies MI5 and MI6
in the wake of the “extremely serious” allega-
tions in the “war on terror”.
“An independent inquiry is the only way to get
to the bottom of these stories, clear the air and
make recommendations for the future conduct
and management of the security services,” the
report said. “The recent allegations should be
a wake-up call to ministers that the current ar-
rangements are not satisfactory. We look to the
government to respond positively to our recom-
mendations and not to continue to hide behind
their wall of secrecy.”
Lawmakers also urged the government to fol-
low the US, by releasing any instructions given to
agents on questioning and detention of suspects
overseas and legal advice about the issues.
US President Barack Obama in April allowed
the release of sensitive and controversial docu-
ments approving the interrogation methods from
ex-president George W. Bush’s administration.
The committee looked at eight terrorism sus-
pects who claimed they were visited by British
security agents while they were detained and
allegedly tortured in Pakistan since 2001.
It also examined the case of former Guan-
tanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed who
claims he was tortured and questioned by US
and British agents during his six and a half years
in US custody. British resident Binyam alleges he
spent time in facilities in Pakistan, Morocco and
Afghanistan, suffering “medieval” torture includ-
ing sexual mutilation, before being transferred to
the US-run Guantanamo camp.
After he was released in February without
charge, British police last month launched a
criminal probe into his claims that British agents
were linked to his torture. The government has
opposed his legal bid to secure the release of a
secret document about his allegations, saying it
could prompt the US to limit its intelligence-shar-
ing. A former British ambassador to Uzbekistan
told the committee of his belief that Britain had
received intelligence obtained by torture in Uz-
bekistan jails. – AFP
obtained by torture in Uz- bekistan jails. – AFP briefs Bounty recovered from sunken ship BUENOS

Bounty recovered from sunken ship

BUENOS AIRES: A team of divers has recovered nearly US$20 million (RM69.6 million) worth of gold from the icy

waters off Argentina’s southeastern coast, a source close to the recovery operation said on Monday. The cargo of gold and silver sank in January on board a ship named the Polar Mist, which disappeared off Argentina’s Patagonian coast in bad weather.

A marine recovery outfit raised the haul from the depths

of the south Atlantic and transported it to an Argentine customs facility, where it was weighed in front of a federal judge, the source said. The ill-fated vessel sank on Jan 18 at a depth of 80m, around 40km of the coast of Santa Cruz, prompting a search for its 9.4-tonnes of gold and silver. After months of negotiations between the shipment’s owners and insurers, the C-Sailor search ship located the wreck on June 23 and confirmed the cargo was still aboard. – AFP

Iran confirms detention of US trio

TEHERAN: An Iranian security official confirmed yes- terday that three Americans had been arrested for “illegal entry” into Iran near the border with Iraq. The detentions come as Washington is seeking to increase pressure on Teheran over its nuclear drive and amid turmoil in Iran following President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in June. “These three people whose identity is not known yet were arrested on the Malakh-Khor border near the town of Marivan,” Iraj Hassanzadeh, deputy governor for security in Iran’s Kordestan province, said. – AFP

Chavez supporters storm TV station

CARACAS: Armed protesters stormed the Caracas head- quarters of a television station critical of Hugo Chavez’s government on Monday, one of the channel’s managers said. Globovision’s Maria Fernanda Flores said around 30 people arrived at the outlet’s headquarters by car and aimed guns at security staff, forcing their way into the building – where they activated two teargas canisters. One municipal policeman, charged with guarding the building, and some private guards were hurt during the attack, the station said. “We cannot tolerate that violence would be an instru- ment though which we resolve our differences,” Flores said. Station manager Alberto Federico Ravell said he held Chavez responsible for the attack. – AFP

Missing plane located in jungle

JAKARTA: Searchers yesterday located the wreckage of a plane that crashed with 15 people on board in the jungle of Indonesia’s easternmost province of Papua, officials and media reports said. The wreckage of the Twin Otter plane was spotted near the Ampisibil area of the Bintang Mountains district, but the fate of the 15 people it was carrying was not known, the state- run Antara news agency reported. The chief of Jayapura’s Sentani Airbase, Col Su- wandi, was quoted as saying that a team of eight personnel, including a doctor, would depart for the crash site in a helicopter. He said a plan of action had been drafted in case the chopper could not land. The plane, belonging to the state-run Merpati Airlines, was carrying 12 passengers, including two babies, and a crew of three, when it went missing on Sunday during a scheduled 55-minute flight from Jayapura to Oksibil. – dpa

Plane takes itself off for a ride

SYDNEY: An Australian pilot who forgot to put chocks under the wheels of his aircraft when he cranked its propel- ler saw it take off without him. The embarrassing, and expensive, accident took place yesterday in the Outback opal mining town of Coober Pedy. Unable to start the Cessna from the cockpit, he spun the propeller by hand but was not quick enough clambering aboard. The plane flew for 300m before smashing into pieces when it crash landed. – dpa

Australia detains

four in terror plot

MELBOURNE: Australian police arrested four men they said were linked to a Somali militant group yesterday, accusing them of planning a suicide attack on an army base and raising fears the Al Qaeda-linked rebels were seeking targets outside Africa. The four were seized in dawn raids on 19 properties across Melbourne following a seven-month investigation involving sev- eral forces and Australia’s national security agency Asio. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the ar- rests showed “the threat of terrorism is alive and well”. But officials said Australia’s terror- ism warning alert would remain at medium level, where it has been since 2003. It is the latest high-profile terrorism case that the country’s police and intelligence agencies have uncovered. Australia’s biggest terrorism trial ended in February when cleric Abdul Nacer Ben- brika was jailed for 15 years for leading a cell that planned to bomb a 2005 football

match in Melbourne. Altogether, 12 people were jailed over the plot. Australia has gradually tightened its anti-terrorism laws since the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the US. It is believed to be a target mainly because it has more than 1,000 mili- tary personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Essentially, what these people are about is changing Western foreign policy,” said Clive Williams, terrorism analyst at Macquarie University. “In the case of the US, it is support for Israel in particular. In the case of Australia, it is things like our deployment to Afghanistan.” The four detained men were aged between 22 and 26 and were all Austral- ian citizens with Somali and Lebanese backgrounds. Police said they were linked to Somalia’s Al Shabaab group. Analysts say Al Shabaab, which is on the US State Department’s terrorism list, has links with Al Qaeda and has recently had success recruiting from the Somali diaspora

and among other youths abroad. Acting Australian federal police com- missioner Tony Negus told reporters the suspects had planned to storm a military base in suburban Sydney with automatic weapons. “The men’s intention was to actually go into the army barracks and to kill as many soldiers as they could until they themselves were killed,” he said. Police said they had worked with inter- national agencies on the raids, but declined to say who tipped them off. One man, Nayaf El Sayed, 25, was charged with conspiring to plan or prepare a terrorist act. He did not enter a plea or apply for bail, and he refused to stand for the magistrate before he was remanded in jail to reappear in court on Oct 26. “He believes he should not stand for any man except God,” Sayed’s counsel told the hearing. Police were granted extra time to ques- tion three others: Saney Aweys, Yacqub Khayre and Abdirahman Ahmed. A fifth man, in custody on other matters, was also being questioned and police have not ruled out more arrests. Prosecutors told Melbourne magistrate’s court they had evidence some of the men had taken part in training in Somalia and at least one had engaged in frontline fighting. They said police had evidence including phone conversations, text messages and surveillance footage, including of one sus- pect outside suburban Sydney’s Holsworthy army base. – Reuters

Bill Clinton in North Korea to free US journalists

SEOUL: Former US president Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to North Korea and met its reclusive leader Kim Jong-il (pix) yesterday to try to win freedom for two jailed American journalists in a move that could re-energise nuclear talks. Clinton, husband of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had what North Korea’s KCNA news agency described as an “exhaustive con- versation” over dinner with the ailing Jong-il and top North Korean officials. Arriving in an unmarked jet on a trip to North Korea he had hoped to take before leaving of- fice in January 2001, Clinton was presented with flowers by a girl dressed in traditional costume before he was led to a black limousine and driven away. Confusion rose quickly about the delicate diplomatic negotia- tions he was engaged in. The North Korean news agency said Clinton passed on a verbal message from US President Barack Obama. “Kim Jong-il expressed thanks for this,” KCNA said of the mes- sage. “He welcomed Clinton’s visit to the DPRK (North Korea) and had an exhaustive conversation with him. There was a wide-ranging exchange of views on the matters of common concern.” But the White House denied Clinton carried a message from Obama. “That’s not true,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters in Washington. Clinton’s objective was to gain the release of two journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling of US media


outlet Current TV co-founded by Clinton’s vice-president Al Gore. They were arrested on the North Korea-China border in March and accused of illegal entry. A North Ko- rean court sentenced both of them last month to 12 years hard labour for what it called grave crimes. Clinton’s visit could have a side benefit of improving the atmos- phere between the United States

and North Korea that could restart talks over the isolated state’s nuclear weapons. North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, was among those greeting Clinton. “As soon as he arrives, he will be entering negotiations with the North for the release of the female journal- ists,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a source as saying.

Many analysts predicted Pyongyang would use the journal- ists as leverage to wring conces- sions from Washington, which sought to place UN sanctions on the North for a May nuclear test. It is the second time a former US president has headed to the com- munist state to try to defuse a crisis. Former president Jimmy Carter flew there in 1994. – Reuters

headed to the com- munist state to try to defuse a crisis. Former president Jimmy Carter