CIA rendition flights landed in British territories
The British government says it has learned from the US that its earlier denials of aiding the criticized operations were wrong.
The British government revealed Thursday that CIA rendition flights, which critics say are used to transfer prisoners to be tortured, landed in British territory in 2002, despite Britain's previous denials of aiding rendition operations.Skip to next paragraph
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The Independent of London reports that the British government admitted that the US failed to inform Britain of two CIA rendition flights carrying suspected terrorists that had landed in British territory in 2002. David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, said the government only recently learned of the rendition flights to its Indian Ocean base of Diego Garcia.
[Mr. Miliband] had to make a humiliating apology to the Commons after it emerged that the US failed to tell British officials that two CIA rendition flights carrying suspected terrorists landed on the island of Diego Garcia in 2002. Six years on, one of the suspects is still being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The other has been released.
Mr Miliband denied there was a deliberate cover-up and said he believed the US had acted "in good faith". However, Gordon Brown, attending an EU summit in Brussels, expressed his "disappointment" and said Washington's failure to disclose the flights earlier was "a very serious issue".
"The US has expressed regret that it did not admit at the time to these renditions through Diego Garcia," he added. "We have to assure ourselves these procedures will never happen again."
"We came up with fresh information that in short order we shared with the British government," [State Department spokesman Sean McCormack] told reporters. "We regret that there was an error in providing initially that inaccurate information to a good friend and ally."
The New York Times reports that the British government was informed of the flights last week, during a trip to Britain by CIA Director Michael Hayden. General Hayden released a statement Thursday admitting that the CIA's earlier assertions that no rendition flights had landed in British territory, though "supplied in good faith, turned out to be wrong."
In his account, [Hayden] said that neither of the two detainees carried aboard the rendition flights that refuelled at Diego Garcia "was ever part of the C.I.A.'s high-value terrorist interrogation program." This appeared to be his way of saying what Mr. Miliband, in his Commons statement, made explicit, that the suspects on the two flights were not taken to any of the C.I.A.'s network of secret prisons, some of them in eastern Europe, and that they were not subjected to stress techniques that critics of the C.I.A. program have described as tantamount to torture, including waterboarding.
General Hayden said one of the detainees "was ultimately transferred to Guantánamo," the American military prison on the eastern tip of Cuba, while the other "was returned to his home country," identified by State Department officials in Washington on Thursday as Morocco. "These were rendition operations, nothing more," General Hayden said. He also used the statement to refute accusations by human rights groups that the C.I.A. "had a holding facility" for terrorist suspects on Diego Garcia, a 40-mile long island leased by Britain about 1,000 miles southwest of the southernmost tip of India. "That is false," he said.