A number of US Department of Defense documents leaked several years later showed that, like other men who were rounded up and taken to Guantánamo, Harith was there not because he was thought to be dangerous, but because the information he possessed was considered useful. Harith’s file shows that he was sent to Guantánamo “because he was expected to have knowledge of Taliban treatment of prisoners and interrogation tactics”. Eighteen months later, the camp authorities had satisfied themselves that he had no connection with the Taliban or al-Qaida, but decided against releasing him because his “timeline has not been fully established” and because British diplomats who had seen him in Kandahar had found him to be “cocky and evasive”.
In all, nine British nationals were sent to the maximum-security prison at Guantánamo, along with at least nine former British residents. All were incarcerated for years, and from the moment they arrived they suffered beatings, threats and sleep deprivation. All were interrogated by MI5 officers and some also by MI6. When Harith was eventually released, along with three men from the West Midlands known as the Tipton Three, a man called Martin from the Foreign Office was waiting for them as they boarded the plane home. “Can you,” he asked, “make sure you say you were treated properly?”
Martin’s boss, foreign secretary Jack Straw, was particularly concerned that the wider world should never learn of the extent to which the British government had become involved in the torture of its own citizens at Guantánamo.