You're Nick-ed, Agent Langman!
An MI6 station boss who had been operating under diplomatic cover in Greece has been recalled to London after being named by the Greek weekly magazine To Proto Thema, reporting a case of alleged torture and brutality to Palistani workers secretly arrested in Greece.
Attempts by the British goverment to keep Nicholas Langman's name quiet, with D-notices to newspaper editors requesting silence, have been defied by the Morning Star (December 30), and by various blogs and websites. Now Nicholas John Andrew Langman, to give him his full name, is reported to be back on British soil, although the Foreign Office claimed the Greek allegations were "unfounded".
The case concerns more than two dozen Pakistani workers kidnapped from their homes in Athens and the north-west town of Ioannina, following the July 7 London bombings. According to a complaint lodged with lawyers by seven of those detained, they were seized on July 10, by agents of the Greek secret service, EYP, and taken away, bound and hooded, to a secret place for interrogation. They were eventually released without charge
" A police officer violently struck me twice as I lay on the ground. I asked him for water and he again struck me. Then, he gave me a kick. He wanted to know the circumstances in which I would have used my mobile to contact people I knew in London and parents in Pakistan ", testified Gul Nawaz, 32 years old, and living in Athens for the past three years.
"They asked me whether I had ties with Al-Qaida. I answered them that no, that I was Moslem and that I had come to Greece to nourish my wife and my three children left in Pakistan ", adds Mohammed Munir, who according to his deposition was maltreated on several occasions during his captivity.
Greek security police allegedly beat and tortured the men to "show off" to the British officer conducting the questioning. A dark-skinned British agent was in charge, according to the accounts. One prisoner was threatened with a pistol that was shoved in his mouth. After being held for a week on average, without access to a lawyer, the captives were eventually dumped, blindfolded, in the middle of the night in central Athens.
"Our jailors told us that our families in Pakistan would suffer reprisals if we speak about what had happened to us ", Munir says.
"It seems that secret services were acting in a way that was not at all legal", said Greek former MEP Michaelis Papayannakis, "And from what we know this is not the first time that this has happened." (Greece urged to investigate MI6 torture link, Guardian, December 28)
Greece Minister for Justice Anastasis Papaligouras, opened an investigation. But his colleague George Voulgarakis, who supervises the intelligence services, formally denied that the interrogations had happened. The EYP has reportedly been working with the British Special Branch since they collaborated in breaking up the 17 November terrorist group responsible for the assassination of Britain's military attache in Athens, Stephen Sanders. There was also some sharing of expertise to counter possible terrorism or hooliganism at the Olympics.
But an operation like the one described must have been approved by the head of government, Costas Karamanlis, according to To Proto Thema.
The "D-notice" system by which editors are requested to withold information in the interests of "national security", is voluntary, but most British papers loyally obeyed this one, as they usually do. Even in international media and on the internet information was not easy to come by. No doubt we will be self-righteously told now that the MI6 man's life could be at risk if he is identified. As though any state or terrorist organisation wishing to pursue MI6 agents would not be capable of reading the Greek weekly, or making their own researches! But it is a guiding rule of British official "secrecy" that whatever foreigners may know or allege, nothing must be allowed that might add credance to their allegations for the British public.