Daily archives: February 23, 2006

CIA flights: “If Straw and Blair get away with this foul abuse, then the rule of law is finished”

Now that information is starting to come out about the hundreds of CIA rendition flights in UK airspace, at least scores refuelling at UK airports, the government’s refusal to give details to MPs of CIA flights landing at military airports is an appalling denial of democracy.

The government claims that this information would be “too expensive” to collect.

Earlier in my career, I was the number 2 in the FCO’s Aviation and Maritime Department. I can tell you for certain that, even by Jack Straw’s standards, the “too expensive” claim is an appalling lie.

When these planes touch down in the UK, they no longer have flag immunity. Which means that UK law applies rather than the law of the country in which the plane is registered. So when someone is being held against their will without legal authority- usually shackled to the floor – and the plane is on the ground at Prestwick, RAF Northolt or elsewhere, a serious crime is being committed.

I can tell you for certain that if these planes were carrying heroin, rather than beaten and degraded human beings, it would be technically very simple to track them, given we know the physical planes used. It would also be no problem at all to board them at the airport.

If parliament and the courts allow Straw and Blair to get away with this foul abuse, then the rule of law is finished and we no longer live in a democracy.

I shall be testifying before the European Parliament’s Committee on Extraordinary Rendition in Brussels on 23 March.


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Pressure builds over rendition flights in UK

From The Guardian (22.02.2006)

The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, today again denied the government had any knowledge of CIA “extraordinary rendition” flights, after it was revealed last night that the suspected planes involved had flown through UK airspace around 200 times in the past five years.

The row over possible British government collusion in the controversial US practice re-erupted last night after Channel Four news revealed new figures from the National Air Traffic Service relating to the aircraft thought to be involved.


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Five European states withhold information on CIA flights

From BBC Online

Five European countries have not given information about allegations of covert CIA prison transport flights, Europe’s human rights watchdog has said. Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Italy, San Marino and Georgia were all in breach of European human rights law, according to the Council of Europe.

The head of the council had asked all 46 members to detail any involvement. A recent council inquiry said the CIA flew more than 100 terror suspects through Europe, possibly for torture.

In a series of questions distributed in November 2005, Council of Europe Secretary-General Terry Davis asked member states to detail what measures they had taken to ensure that people were not subject to “forced disappearances, secret detentions and extraordinary renditions”.

The deadline for responses expired on Tuesday.

Mr Davis said: “I remind all five countries that their failure to reply is a clear breach of the Convention, which underpins the defence of human rights across the continent.” The breach should be rectified “as a matter of urgency”, he added.


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Who will blink first?

The New Statesman on Murder in Samarkand

Jack “the Lad” Straw and ex-ambassador turned general-election rival Craig Murray are in a “who’ll blink first” stand-off. The Foreign Secretary refuses to clear Murray’s weighty 160,000-word memoirs for publication; our ex-man in Uzbekistan offers the book for sale from June on Amazon. Murray threatens to lift the lid on UK support for torture and rendition. Jack the Lad, it seems, is putting Murray through his own torture.

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Steve Coogan “in the frame” to play Craig Murray in film version of Murder in Samarkand

From Dark Horizons

Controversial British director Michael Winterbottom (“9 Songs”, “Code 46”, “The Road to Guantanamo”) has set yet another hot button project as his next film – “Murder in Samarkand” reports Production Weekly.

Based on the memoirs of Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, the film will follow his famous firing in 2004 after drawing attention to torture and human rights abuses in Uzbekistan.

Comedian Steve Coogan, who has worked twice with Winterbottom before on “24 Hour Party People” and “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” is tipped to be playing Murray in the film which is expected to be taking a year to set up.

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