LONDON (MSNBC) — Britain has agreed to pay millions of dollars in settlements to a group of former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were suing the government for alleged complicity in their torture overseas.
Ken Clarke, the U.K.’s justice secretary, was due to announce details later Tuesday.
The payments follow a series of talks aimed at avoiding a lengthy and expensive series of lawsuits that would have shone an unwelcome light on the activities of British spies.
Britain’s ITV News reported that at least 7 ex-detainees would receive payments , and claimed one man would be paid more than one million pounds ($1.6 million). It did not cite its sources.
Diplomats and government officials previously had confirmed negotiations were taking place with lawyers for 12 former detainees, all either British citizens or residents, who had begun legal action against the government.
High Court judge Stephen Silber said in July that mediation talks were under way, aimed at reaching a deal outside the courts.
British spies have not been accused of torturing detainees themselves, but the men alleged British officials were complicit in their mistreatment while they were held by the U.S., Pakistan and other countries, because they knew of abuse but did not stop it.
In the most notorious case, ex-detainee Binyam Mohamed alleged Britain was aware he was severely beaten, subjected to sleep deprivation and had his genitals sliced with a scalpel. A British court has ruled that Mohamed was subjected to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” by U.S. authorities.
Britain’s government has been anxious to deal with the lawsuits, estimating that court cases could last 5 years and cost up to 50 million pounds ($80 million) in legal fees. Officials said about 100 intelligence officials had already been removed from regular duties to work on preparing up to 500,000 documents to be used in court, according to The Associated Press.