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A Pakistani citizen held at Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan for a decade has been released, it was revealed yesterday.
Yunus Rahmatullah was held at the US airbase for 10 years without charge, trial or access to a lawyer after his capture by British forces in Iraq and subsequent rendition to Afghanistan by British forces in 2004.
After years of government denials that Britain had been involved in 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 its role in Mr Rahmatullah’s illegal detention and transfer, the government refused to assist him.
As a result legal charity Reprieve and Leigh Day solicitors took action on Mr Rahmatullah’s behalf by legal action.
It was 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.
The Supreme Court in London suggested in 2012 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 his ordeal.
Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “After 10 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.
“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.”
Leigh Day solicitor Rosa Curling added: “The UK authorities transferred our client in to US custody, when it knew there was a real risk such a transfer would expose him to torture, mistreatment and abuse.
“They failed to take proper steps to try to ensure the US returned him to UK custody. To date, the UK government has refused to undertake such an investigation.”
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