'Torture always wrong' British PM David Cameron says after report on CIA acts

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media in Ankara on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron addresses the media in Ankara on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday joined international consternation over the US Senate report describing CIA torture of Al-Qaeda suspects as far more brutal and ineffective than previously believed.

"Let us be clear: Torture is wrong. Torture is always wrong," Cameron told a press conference in Ankara, where he met Turkish officials to discuss increased security cooperation to battle the rising terror threat posed by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).

Asked about the US report, Cameron said the use of torture and other violations of human rights to battle terrorists was ultimately counter-productive.

"Those of us who want to see a safer, more secure world want to see extremism defeated. We won't succeed if we lose our moral authority," Cameron noted.

"Obviously after 9/11 there were things that happened that were wrong. We should be clear about the fact that they were wrong."

Critics in Britain have been particularly vociferous since the report's release in demanding the government come clean about its role in helping the CIA rendition programme that delivered suspects to secret sites where they were abused by interrogators. They want Britain to assume its portion of responsibility for the brutality - and in some cases death - that resulted.

Despite the detail the Senate used to describe the extent of torture used to interrogate Al-Qaeda captives, it redacted information about countries and officials who assisted in the US rendition program, and had knowledge of its activities.

But several British media reports contend top officials in the British government at the time - under then-prime minister Tony Blair - were kept informed by British intelligence about cooperation with the US in rendition and torture.

In 2010, Britain's Court of Appeals ruled that British resident Binyam Mohammed had been subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities" and that British intelligence operatives had been complicit in the acts.

Despite the calls inside Britain that it, too, make full accounting of its role in the CIA's operation, Cameron said inquiries and rulings like that of the 2010 court case had already shed light on the topic.

"I am confident this issue has been dealt with from the British perspective," Cameron said Tuesday. "I am satisfied that our system is dealing with all of these issues."