British resident says photographs are evidence of abuse at Guantánamo
Former Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed has launched an urgent legal attempt to prevent the US courts from destroying crucial evidence that he says proves he was abused while being held at the detention camp, the Guardian has learned. The evidence is said to consist of a photograph of Mohamed, a British resident, taken after he was severely beaten by guards at the US navy base in Cuba.
The image, now held by the Pentagon, had been put on his cell door, he says.
Mohamed claims he was told later that this was done because he had been beaten so badly that it was difficult for the guards to identify him.
In a sworn statement seen by the Guardian, Mohamed has appealed to the federal district court in Washington not to destroy the photograph, which neither he nor his lawyers have a copy of, and which is classified under US law.
The US government considered the case closed once Mohamed was released and returned to Britain in February. The photograph will be destroyed within 30 days of his case being dismissed by the American courts – a decision on which is due to be taken by a judge imminently, Clive Stafford Smith, Mohamed's British lawyer and director of Reprieve, the legal charity, said today .
Under US law, evidence relating to dismissed cases must be automatically destroyed. The only way to preserve the photograph is to have it accepted as a court document.
This is the aim of Mohamed's appeal and he says he needs the image as a crucial piece of evidence to fight his case against US authorities for unlawful incarceration and abuse. "That is one piece of physical evidence that I know exists of my abuse," he says in the statement, adding that it was taken in Guantánamo in 2006.