Britain torture claims 'undermined standing': Hague

16th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's alleged complicity in controversial practices used after the September 11 attacks harmed its global reputation but the country must now move on, Foreign Secretary William Hague was to say Wednesday.

Britain has been hit by allegations that its agents were complicit in the illegal transfer of terror suspects following 9/11 to countries where they faced torture.

"The very making of these allegations undermined Britain's standing in the world as a country that upholds international law and abhors torture," Hague was to argue in a speech later Wednesday, according to a readout released by the Foreign Office.

The foreign minister was also to praise the country's security services and announce the expediting of proposals aimed at drawing together the interests of the justice and security agencies.

Prime Minister David Cameron set up an inquiry last year to probe allegations of British complicity in torture.

In addition, the government will bring forward plans to bolster legal arrangements and improve monitoring of intelligence agencies, Hague was to announce.

"At its heart are proposals to ensure that cases involving sensitive national security information can be heard fairly, fully and safely in our courts, and that we protect UK national security by preventing the disclosure of genuinely sensitive material," he was to explain.

According to the former Conservative party leader, the initiatives demonstrate that the government was "drawing a line under the past" and reconciling the interests of national security and justice.

The Guardian newspaper in September published claims by Libyan Islamist Sami al-Saadi, also known as Abu Munthir, that in 2004 he and his family were detained by foreign intelligence agency MI6 and handed over to authorities in Libya, who allegedly tortured him.

They followed claims by Abdelhakim Belhaj, now a rebel military commander in Libya, who said Britain and the US were complicit in a plan that led to his illegal transfer to Libya and subsequent torture.

Despite the claims, Hague was to highlight the vital role carried out by the intelligence agencies, without which he claimed "terrorist groups would have free rein to harm UK citizens here and abroad."

© 2011 AFP

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