LONDON (AP) — British intelligence officers knew about detainee mistreatment by other countries and the government may have been involved in some cases of rendition, according to an aborted inquiry report released Thursday.
The report submitted to Prime Minister David Cameron said British agents may have been unwilling to challenge abuse or mistreatment of prisoners, such as the use of sleep-deprivation techniques, physical assaults against detainees, use of stress positions and hooding, because they did not want to jeopardize working relations with other countries.
"In some instances U.K. intelligence officers were aware of inappropriate interrogation techniques and mistreatment or allegations of mistreatment of some detainees by liaison partners from other countries," it found.
The report also noted "there is an issue as to whether the government and the agencies may have become inappropriately involved in some cases of rendition," and if sufficient guidance was issued on to what extent "it was proper" for the U.K. to support or assist renditions carried out by other countries.
The inquiry was set up to examine whether Britain was implicated in the improper treatment of detainees held by other countries in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, but cut off earlier this year after allegations from Libyans of U.K. complicity in renditions.
Retired judge Peter Gibson, chair of the inquiry, noted that several questions remain unanswered by the aborted inquiry, which examined 20,000 documents — the vast majority of which were highly classified.
"There are matters which deserve further investigation," he said, with the report pointing to 27 areas needing further examination, including how suspected mistreatment was reported or raised with higher-ups and even whether Britain should have taken more aggressive action to win the earlier release of U.K. detainees held at the U.S. military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The inquiry would have wished to examine when the government came to understand the scope of the U.S. policy and whether the government and its agencies responded adequately once they became aware of renditions or proposed renditions of British nationals and U.K. residents."
The issues are now being handed over to Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, a move which has angered campaigners calling it a U-turn on the promise of a judge-led inquiry.
"Handing the investigation over to the ISC raises the prospect that much of the truth may remain buried," Amnesty International's Europe director, John Dalhuisen, said.
Andrew Tyrie, a senior lawmaker from Cameron's ruling Conservative Party, also called the decision a mistake, saying the public wouldn't have faith in the committee's ability to carry out a thorough investigation.
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