Foreign Policy
Foreign Policy

UK Delaying Release Of CIA 'Torture Flight' Records, Says Human Rights Group

| by Michael Allen

A human rights organization claims that the UK government is delaying the public release of flight records that may prove the CIA used a British overseas territory for so-called "torture flights."

Reprieve, an organization that promotes the human rights of prisoners worldwide, says the UK government admitted in 2008 that the CIA used the island of Diego Garcia for rendition flights in 2002.

Diego Garcia is a British territory located in the Indian Ocean that has been leased to the U.S. government since 1966 by the UK.

The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a report in December 2014 detailing how the CIA flew terrorist suspects overseas to "black sites" and tortured them, noted Slate.com.

Lawrence Wilkerson, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff from 2002-2005, told VICE News in January that the CIA had used Diego Garcia:

What I heard was more along the lines of using it as a transit location when perhaps other places were full or other places were deemed too dangerous or insecure, or unavailable at the moment. So you might have a case where you simply go in and use a facility at Diego Garcia for a month, or two weeks, or whatever, and you do your nefarious activities there.

This week, Reprieve's Donald Campbell said in a press release:

It is now over seven years since the UK government was forced to admit that CIA torture flights were allowed to use the British territory of Diego Garcia, yet we still seem no closer to the publication of flight records which could provide crucial evidence of what went on.

RT.com notes that the UK government said in July 2014 that the flight records had suffered "water damage." Mark Simmonds, the UK's Foreign Office Minister at the time, claimed that government officials would be “assessing their suitability for publication.”

However, Campbell questions this claim in Reprieve's press release:

Last summer, after the records reportedly suffered "accidental" water damage, ministers promised that they were "assessing their suitability for publication." Eight months later, they say they are still "assessing." It is hard to see how such a long delay could be justified. We need to see full publication of those records without delay, in order to reassure the public that Britain is not involved in the cover-up of torture evidence.

Sources: VICE News, RT.com, Reprieve, Slate.com
Image Credit: OpenSocietyFoundations.org via Transcend.org

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