Alleged Torture Photos Slated for Destruction

July 07, 2009 | Last updated: July 31, 2020

In another black mark on the Obama administration’s promised transparency, former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed has launched an urgent legal fight to prevent photos he claims prove he was tortured from being destroyed. Mohamed, who was seized in Pakistan in 2002 and later transferred to Morocco and Guantanamo Bay, was released in February and returned to Britain. He claims to have been brutally beaten to the point of being unrecognizable and subjected to an unnecessary anal cavity search. Under U.S. law, which states that all evidence from such a case must be destroyed within 30 days of the case’s closure, the classified photos will not be released to the public before their destruction. But according to Mohamed, “The authorities have consistently denied that I have been abused, and this is physical evidence that I am telling the truth, and they are not.”

In addition, The Guardian has written the British High Court requesting that it disclose the photographs “in the interest of open justice and freedom of expression.” Mohamed’s lawyer, Stafford Smith, expressed discontent with the Obama administration, largely in line with transparency advocates concerned with the torture of detainees: “It is difficult to understand the continuing policy of the Obama administration. Surely the public has the right to know the crimes committed by US personnel against a British resident like Binyam Mohamed.”