LONDON (Reuters) - British spies asked for material to be redacted in a U.S. Senate report about the CIA’s mistreatment of terrorism suspects but were not trying to hide any complicity in wrongdoing, a senior parliamentary committee concluded on Wednesday.
But the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said that while it cleared the agencies of wrongdoing in relation to the Senate report, the broader issue of whether Britain colluded in torture had still not been determined.
The U.S. Senate report, published in December, found the CIA had misled the White House and public about its harsh interrogation of detainees after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and acted more brutally and pervasively than it had acknowledged.
Britain said at the time that intelligence officials had asked for parts of the summary in the report to be redacted, but only on the grounds of national security.
This led to accusations its foreign and domestic security services, MI6 and MI5, were trying to cover up involvement in torture, in secret facilities, of al Qaeda suspects and other fighters held largely in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“From the evidence we have seen and heard, we conclude that these allegations are unfounded,” the ISC, which oversees Britain’s spies, said in a report.
After questioning the heads of MI5 and MI6 and examining all the material relating to their agencies’ dealings with the CIA, the ISC said requests to conceal evidence were made but that all related to national security interests.
“They do not concern UK involvement or complicity in, or awareness of, the mistreatment of detainees,” the ISC said.
“These conclusions do not have any bearing on the more critical question of any complicity by the UK security and intelligence agencies in the mistreatment of detainees, and do not pre-empt our wider inquiry into those matters,” the committee said.
Both MI5 and MI6 have for years been accused of colluding in the ill-treatment of suspected militants, accusations they have rejected. Ministers have also denied knowledge of sending suspects to face torture abroad.
Editing by Ralph Boulton