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Group Seeks British Records Involving Alleged Rendition Flight


A British human rights organization has begun legal action aimed at gaining the release of British government records regarding a rendition flight involving an individual who allegedly was flown via the British territory of Diego Garcia. The man who spent six years at Guantanamo claims he was tortured by the CIA under the Bush administration.

Pakistani Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni says he was visiting relatives in Indonesia when he was detained. The 31-year-old claims he was handcuffed and hooded, and put on a so-called rendition flight to Egypt that he and others believe refueled for 30 minutes on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

The island is leased to the U.S. where a large air base is maintained. Speaking to the BBC, Madni recalls that stop-over in early 2002.

"They land over there for half an hour," he said. "I feel a lot of the flash of the cameras that a lot of people come and they pictures me and feel the flash of the cameras."

The human rights group Reprieve is submitting a lawsuit that will demand a judicial review of the government decision not to examine Madni's claim that he was one of at least two known suspects that were moved through Diego Garcia.

Clare Algar from Reprieve says British Foreign Secretary David Miliband now admits at least two individuals were moved through the British island. She says the first step is to determine if Madni was on a stop-over there and if so, other legal action will be set in motion.

"David Miliband said a while back, having said 54 times that in answer to parliamentary questions that nobody had gone through Diego Garcia, he said on the 55th time that actually the U.S. had now told him that people had gone through Diego Garcia. And we think, having pieced it together, that it was this guy Madni, but we do not know, so the piece of litigation that we are bringing is to ask the government to tell us who it was," said Algar.

Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni alleges he was eventually flown to Cairo where he says he was tortured with electric shocks and was forced to drink drug-laced tea.

He also claims an American interrogator submitted questions for others to ask during this process.

"The CIA was showing me my medical file like this," said Madni. "If you cooperate with us, you will get your medical treatment. If you do not cooperate with us, you are not going to get your medical treatment. And the surgeon from the Americans, they say we not see you as a patient. We see you as the enemy. And we are not a doctor, we are a soldier and Americans."

If it can be established that Madni was in Diego Garcia, that would be a breach of European law and as Algar says, that would mean action against the government of Tony Blair and other parties could be mounted.

"I think that there would be a claim against the British government for their part in the situation, but also possibly a claim against the American forces within Diego Garcia," said Algar.

Madni was moved on to the detention center at Guantanamo Bay where he spent six years. He was released in August 2008 without charge.

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