London – A British citizen tortured in Somalia and interrogated by CIA and FBI officers, was yesterday sentenced to 15 years in prison after a summary trial before a military court in Mogadishu. David Taylor, whose name has been changed at his family’s request, appeared briefly at a half day trial on the 16th of September 2021. [1]

The trial was deeply flawed, rendering Mr Taylor’s conviction unsafe. Amongst other things:

  • Mr Taylor was tried in a military tribunal.

  • He was denied access to a lawyer of his choice.

  • He was forced to rely on a lawyer appointed by the court just one week before the trial.

  • Mr Taylor met his lawyer on only two occasions for less than half an hour each time.

  • The only evidence against him consisted of a coerced confession that had not been translated into English before he signed it, and statements from three witnesses who were not present at the hearing to be cross-examined.

  • He was convicted in relation to allegations that were never even presented in court.

  • To this day, he has never been provided with any paperwork in relation to his case.

The family of Mr Taylor, and his UK legal representative had sought the immediate intervention of the Foreign Office (FCDO), but it failed in its consular duties by being evasive, unresponsive and unsupportive.

Mr Taylor travelled to Somalia to settle with his Somali wife in 2009. Upon returning from Yemen in April 2019, where he intended to seek UK consular assistance regarding a passport replacement, he was arrested by Puntland authorities and handed over the Federal Government of Somalia.

The Foreign Office was notified at the time but made no attempt to assist Mr Taylor. He remained detained without charge in a cell with dozens of other prisoners and without access to medical treatment for a suspected cancer. During his detention, he was taken for interrogation by the CIA and tortured by the Somali authorities in their presence.

Most recently, on 30 June 2021, the Somali authorities took Mr Taylor for questioning by two American officials who identified themselves as FBI agents. This coincided with the Somali authorities announcing that Mr Taylor had been charged.

Although the FCDO has opened an investigation into the allegations of torture with both the American and Somali administrations, it has remained unresponsive to requests for information and assistance by Mr Taylor’s family and UK lawyer.

Fahad Ansari, Director of Riverway Law, who is representing Mr Taylor said:

“My client was convicted before a kangaroo court in circumstances where he met his court appointed lawyer for just one hour before the trial, where prosecution witnesses did not appear in court, and where the only other evidence against him was a coerced confession written in Somali. The words ‘miscarriage of justice’ cannot be overstated.”

“While the FCDO’s abandonment of my client and refusal to engage with his instructed lawyers may have occurred throughout her predecessor’s time in office, Liz Truss now has the opportunity to make amends and she can start that process by responding to correspondence relating to his welfare, ensuring he has access to appropriate medical treatment and thoroughly investigating the allegations of his torture by UK allies.”

“Sadly, it is too much to even assume that the FCDO would have already acted as a competent department and raised its concerns with the Somali authorities about the lack of due process in my client’s trial, and so I would call upon them to do so without further delay.”

Muhammad Rabbani, Managing Director of CAGE said:

“From lack of concrete action in relation to the allegations of torture to a complete failure to ensure Mr Taylor had any semblance of due process in his trial,  the FCDO has shown utter disregard and arguably complicity in the fate of Mr Taylor. In light of the complete absence of the rule of law in his case, we continue to demand Mr Taylor’s immediate release and repatriation to the UK.”


Editor’s notes:

CAGE is a UK based, independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the “War on Terror”. The organisation highlights and campaigns against repressive state policies, developed as part of increasing securitisation. In doing so, we strive for a world free from oppression and injustice.

[1] See previous Observer reporting on the case:

Image used courtesy of Unsplash/marcin777

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)