Hague’s sincerity in question over rendition comments

June 10, 2011

In an interview with Archbishop Rowan Williams published today, William Hague agreed that extraordinary rendition is ‘absolutely’ a ‘line in the sand’ in terms of an ethical foreign policy.

However, the Foreign Secretary’s own department is currently fighting in the courts against providing basic legal rights to Yunus Rahmatullah, who was captured by the UK in Iraq and rendered to Afghanistan, where he has been held without charge in Bagram prison for seven years.

Commenting, Reprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith said:

“If rendition really is a ‘line in the sand’ for the Foreign Secretary, then why is he fighting to cover up an extraordinary rendition where the UK was patently complicit, and trying to prevent Yunus Rahmatullah, a prisoner captured by UK forces, from having any legal rights after 7 years in a black hole?

“Unless William Hague drops his opposition to our efforts to reunite Yunus with the rule of law, his sincerity has to be open to question.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The interview was published today in the New Statesman on p24 – the extract concerning rendition and torture is as follows:

Rowan Williams: And that example you’ve just given – torture – is a clear line in the sand, is it?

William Hague: Absolutely, yes.

RW: Would you say the same thing about extraordinary renditions?

WH: Yes. Absolutely.

2. The Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence are currently opposing Reprieve’s attempts to obtain a writ of habeas corpus for Yunus Rahmatullah, a Pakistani national detained in Iraq in 2004 by UK forces and handed over to the US, who subsequently ‘rendered’ him to Bagram Prison in Afghanistan where he has been held without trial since. Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the US, the UK retains control over Mr Rahmatullah and is able to request his transfer back into British custody at any time, but has so far refused to do so. A court hearing has been scheduled for 23-24 June.