By JAMES KIRKUP in the Scotsman
THE government has admitted to turning a blind eye to United States’ “torture flights” operated by the CIA through British military airfields.
In a controversial operation, known as “extraordinary rendition”, the US intelligence service routinely transports people it accuses of terrorism to sympathetic countries in the Middle East and North Africa. There, it is alleged, they are tortured.
The detainees are flown on privately-registered jets, which frequently make refuelling stops at airports in Britain. The CIA “ghost flights” have also called at RAF bases including Northolt, north of London.
Now the Ministry of Defence has admitted that when the US planes call at British military bases officials ask no questions about who is on board.
The confirmation came in a written parliamentary answer from Adam Ingram, the armed forces minister, which was published yesterday.
“Where aircraft transit through military airfields, to refuel for example, and passengers do not leave the airfield, the MoD records the names of the pilot and aircraft owner, but does not record the details of passengers,” Mr Ingram wrote.
His answer was given to Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, who said the UK should have no role in the “illegal and immoral” practice.
While rendition flights have sparked protests from several western European governments, Britain is not alone in still allowing refuelling stops: several eastern European nations remain happy to let the CIA use their airports and bases.
Also, from the Independent
Philippe Sands QC, a leading human rights barrister, said: “You can’t turn a blind eye under the torture convention. There is a positive obligation to investigate credible information.”