New revelations mean Government must clarify whether British territory was used to torture

April 11, 2014

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New revelations mean Government must clarify whether British territory was used to torture.

In response to new reports that the CIA ran a torture ‘black-site’ on the British territory of Diego Garcia – something the UK government has consistently denied – legal charity Reprieve has written to the Foreign Secretary asking him to clarify exactly how the island was used.

Earlier this week, Al Jazeera reported that the Senate Intelligence Select Committee had found “that the CIA detained some high-value suspects on Diego Garcia, an Indian Ocean island controlled by the United Kingdom and leased to the United States,” adding that, “classified CIA documents say the black site arrangement at Diego Garcia was made with the “full cooperation” of the British government.”

Although the British Government admitted in 2008 that two rendition flights carrying detainees stopped for refuelling on Diego Garcia in 2002, they have denied on multiple occasions that any detainees were held there or that a secret CIA prison – or ‘black site’ – existed.

In 2004 a Gaddafi opponent and his wife – who were kidnapped, tortured, and rendered back to the former dictator in a joint CIA-MI6 operation – were scheduled to be flown via Diego Garcia en route to Libya.  A CIA flight plan – found and widely circulated in 2011 in the offices of Gaddafi’s spy chief – showed that the intelligence agencies planned to “render” Abdulhakim Belhadj and his wife Fatima Boudchar from Bangkok to Tripoli via Diego Garcia.

However, on December 1st, 2011 Foreign Minister David Liddington told Parliament that: “No flights with a detainee on board landed on Diego Garcia in March 2004. Aside from the two cases of rendition through Diego Garcia (British Indian Ocean Territories) in 2002, the US Government has confirmed that there have been no other instances in which US intelligence flights landed in the UK, our Overseas Territories, or the Crown Dependencies, with a detainee, on board since 11 September 2001.”

Reprieve strategic director, Cori Crider said: “We need to know immediately whether ministers misled Parliament over CIA torture on British soil. If the CIA operated a black site on Diego Garcia, then a string of official statements, from both this and the last government, were totally false. Were ministers asleep at the wheel? Or, as the report suggests, have we been lied to for years? The Foreign Secretary must urgently clarify whether the CIA ran a secret prison on Diego Garcia, and whether our clients Abdel-Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar were among its victims.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s Press Office on: +44 (0) 207 553 8161 or clemency.wells@reprieve.org.uk

2. The full letter from Reprieve to William Hague can be seen upon request.

3. The CIA document found in Libya revealing the scheduled flight path of Mr Belhadj and his wife Ms Boudchar can be found here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/interactive/2012/apr/08/rendition-cia-mi6

4. The Aljazeera America article reporting that there was a CIA black-site on Diego Garcia can be found here: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/4/9/senate-cia-torture.html