Prisoner B, who Reprieve has established is Yunus Rahmatullah, has been held beyond the rule of law for over six years in Bagram Airforce Base. He is said to be in a very grave mental and physical condition.
In February 2009, after years of government denials that the UK had been involved in any rendition operations, then-Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton announced to Parliament that UK forces had captured two men in Iraq in February 2004, and handed them to US forces. In subsequent statements to Parliament, the government revealed that in March 2004, British officials had become aware of the US intention to transfer the men from Iraq to Afghanistan.
The British government admitted its complicity in crime (kidnapping, otherwise called rendition), admitted it was wrong, and appeared to apologize. Yet it did not and refused to identify the men - a crucial step if they are to be reunited with their basic human rights. Indeed, the government has apparently done nothing over the past seven years to ensure that they receive legal assistance.
Reprieve has led a complicated and expensive search for the identity of these men, which covered three continents over ten months. One of the men has been identified as Amanatullah Ali and the other as Yunus Rahmatullah.
Yunus Rahmatullah, also known by his nickname 'Saleh Huddin', was raised in the Gulf states. For six years, he was held incommunicado, unable to even contact his family. Reprieve has been told by multiple sources that, as a result of his abuse in UK and US custody, he is in catastrophic mental and physical shape, and now spends most of his time in the mental health cells at Bagram.
Yunus's family insist on keeping their current location confidential. They are legally in their country of residence, but fear that they will suffer reprisals if they are known to be opposing the British and US governments.
Yunus’s mother Fatima Rahmatullah issued the following statement on April 15, 2010:
“Yunus is the youngest and closest son to my heart. I lost my other son, his only brother, in a tragic accident. Now, Yunus is my only hope in life. I see him in my dreams; I pray daily that I will see him in my waking hours again.
“Our family was shocked when we learned that the British government might have been behind Yunus’ disappearance. I am told the British government has refused even to confirm that Yunus was the person they seized six years ago. As a mother, this is a position that I struggle to understand."
Reprieve sued the UK Government to formally identify Yunus Rahmatullah, and then sued for habeas relief in the British courts. On 14 December 2011, the Court of Appeal issued a writ ordering the British Government to ask the US for Yunus' return. The UK was given one week to secure his release or else to explain why it's not possible. In the course of that week, Yunus's cousin Munir Ahmed, wrote to William Hague expressing his overwhelming joy at hearing that his brother could be home again soon.
On 21 December the British Government reported that they have asked the US for Yunus to be returned. Should the US fail to comply with the request, Britain risks being put in breach of the Geneva Conventions, and British officials could face prosecution for war crimes. Judges gave the Government an extension until 14 February to secure Yunus' release.
Amanatullah Ali was allegedly detained alongside Yunus by UK forces in Iraq in 2004.
The father of five comes from Ghabyanwal, a remote village in Pakistan’s Punjab. Amanatullah had been working as a rice merchant since 2002, a business he had started when his brother, Zulfiqar loaned him some money. He made frequent trips to Iran which is a major importing country because of a high level of consumption and a low level of domestic production.
In February 2004, Amanatullah made another business trip to Iran. His family did not hear from him till a year later in 2005 when they received a letter through the International Committee of the Red Cross. The family learnt that Amanatullah had been rendered to Bagram.
The British Government has admitted its complicity in a crime (kidnapping, otherwise called rendition), admitted it was wrong, and appeared to have apologised. Yet it has not acted to secure his release.
The government bears responsibility towards Mr. Amantullah. It is deeply disturbing that the MoD could apologize for our country’s involvement in this wrongdoing, and yet refuse to assist to put matters right.