Daily archives: October 25, 2005

Police to probe US ‘torture flights’ landing in Scotland

In a follow-up to his previous series of articles Neil Mackay looks at attempts by the Scottish police to confront the CIA

SCOTTISH police are to launch an investigation into CIA ‘torture flights’ which fly in and out of Glasgow and Prestwick airports, ferrying kidnapped war on terror suspects around the world.

The police action is a result of last week’s disturbing investigation by the Sunday Herald into the so-called ‘extraordinary rendition flights’, which see suspects kidnapped overseas by the CIA, drugged and then flown to ‘friendly states, such as Egypt, Uzbekistan and Morocco, where they are tortured on behalf of British and American intelligence.

Following our reports , the Green Party wrote to the chief constable of Strathclyde Police, Sir William Rae, asking for a full inquiry into the torture flights. A police spokesperson confirmed that the force would now launch an investigation.

Last week, we revealed that the British government was to be sued by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith for complicity in the torture of his client Benyam Mohammed al-Habashi.

Also exposed was the fact that international human rights experts and lawyers believe the UK is breaking the Geneva Conventions by collaborating with the USA on the transit of the flights through Britain.

Further, the UK allows British airports to be used for refuelling by the CIA’s jets ferrying suspects around the world. Glasgow and Prestwick airports are the two most favoured CIA stop-overs.

Chris Ballance, the Green Party MSP who represents the Prestwick area, said he lodged the complaint with Strathclyde Police after reading the Sunday Herald’s investigation because it appeared that ‘Scotland is complicit in these gross acts of torture’.

Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, said : ‘Once these planes land on British soil, they have no immunity. If they touch down at a civilian airport they are under civilian jurisdiction. This would allow the police to do their job fully and to board the plane and question those on board.’

Beyond saying that an investigation would take place, Strathclyde Police said it could not comment on how the inquiry would proceed.

The CIA refused categorically to comment. One CIA official merely laughed when told that Scottish police were to investigate.

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