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Since he was 21 years old, Mohammed has frequently been approached by the MI5 to become an informant. In 2012, he was interrogated and held in what he believes to be a CIA black site in Oman. His passport was removed from him in 2014. Mohammed has mental health problems resulting from his experiences.

‘Do you know bin Laden?’

It started with the MI5 at his door in 2001 asking him about his views on 9/11, bin Laden and then handing him a card with a number to call if he wanted to work for them. He threw the card in the bin but that was only the beginning of his encounters with the British security services. In the following years, Mohammed was stopped when traveling to Dubai, China and Malaysia and interrogated under Schedule 7. He was always asked the same questions, focusing mainly on his travels, his family and who his friends were as well as his views on Osama bin Laden, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2012 Mohammed went to Oman with a few friends and got detained on his way back home to the UK. What happened over the next few days is a blur but had a significant impact on Mohammed’s mental health. He remembers being taken somewhere with a sack over his head, blindfolded and initially held inside a concrete building with a mattress on the floor. Mohammed said this place gave him a ‘Guantanamo bay feeling’. He was then taken to what seemed a normal prison and held there for a couple of days. He was calmed when he realised there was no interrogation and assured by the prison guards that he would soon be put on a plane back home to the UK. That did not happen, instead he had a big sack pulled over his head and he was taken to what he thinks was a ship. When his sack was removed he was already inside a cell. Mohammed never saw any other prisoners and his interaction with the prison guards was minimal and he never saw their faces as he was asked to face the wall whenever they entered his cell. Despite being alone there was a lot of noise around him, including voices of women screaming which he believes was all part of the interrogation tactics to make him worry that they had his wife as well.

The interrogations lasted for 3-4 days. As the questions revolved mainly around England focusing particularly on the upcoming Olympics, Mohammed knew it was the British intelligence interrogating him. Mohammed was asked about his friends and people he knew in the UK. He was back on a plane home where he was put on bail conditions. The encounters with the security services continued in the UK. One day a smart dressed man met him at the police station. He said his name was John, he worked for the MI5 and they were recruiting. Then, he showed Mohammed a briefcase full of money and told him it would be good for him and his family.

Mohammed is British and his wife is from Pakistan so they have travelled frequently between the two countries and had their first child born in Pakistan. After what happened to Mohammed in Oman, he went to see a psychiatrist in London who recommended for them to go for a holiday as a family somewhere in Europe. They booked to go to Spain and got interrogated at the airport, asked the same questions as usual and given a card. This time, they said that if Mohammed would not work for them his travels would get more difficult. Four weeks later, in 2014, he received a letter from Theresa May informing him that his passport was now cancelled. Since then, Mohammed has been without a passport.

*All names are pseudonyms*