Ahead of a new report US admits Scottish airport used on rendition flight

From The Herald

The first official admission Scottish airports have been used for refuelling of US rendition flights has sparked calls for more openness and police involvement.

Chris Ballance, the Green MSP who has campaigned on the issue, seized on the revelation that the Americans transported a terror suspect through Prestwick airport in 1998.

Ahead of publication this week of an Amnesty International report that is expected to detail extensive US aircraft movements thought to be so-called “torture flights”, Mr Ballance said that the position of the government is at last shifting.

On Friday, the government admitted a suspect in a civilian aircraft bombing in 1982 was sent to the US via Prestwick in June 1998. The only previous admission has been a refuelling at Stansted airport, when the US was returning a suspect in the 1998 Nairobi bombings.

Since 2001 and the start of the war on terror, it is claimed American activity in “extraordinary rendition” ‘ transporting suspected terrorists to countries with reputations for use of torture ‘ has led to frequent use of Scottish airports.

However, it is also claimed by the government that it has received no applications to let British airports be used for these flights. Mr Ballance echoed the Scottish National Party, saying last week’s admission raises more questions than it provides answers. “The government has previously attempted to deny all knowledge of any rendition flights using Scottish airports,” he said. “Now ministers are changing their tune.”

He said he was glad if terrorists are brought to justice, as appears to be the case with Mohammed Rashed, who was found guilty in the US after being transported via Prestwick, but added: “Hundreds of other flights may have stopped in Scotland and it’s high time the public knew the full facts.”