Scottish Government to seek Westminster support in rendition investigation

February 22, 2020

In a reversal of its previous position, the Scottish Government now says it will seek the UK government’s support in obtaining the full US Senate torture report, in order to establish what role Scottish airports played in CIA rendition flights. So far, only the redacted 525 page Executive Summary of the 6,700 page report has been released.

A spokesperson for justice secretary Humza Yousaf confirmed the move following a letter from MSPs, published in the Scotsman. The cross party group wrote: “We are deeply concerned that without concerted action by the Scottish and Westminster governments, Police Scotland’s investigation will fail to get to the truth.

“Real accountability is urgently needed, and it must be made absolutely clear that Scottish territory can never again be used to facilitate such abuses.”

Earlier this month, Saifullah Paracha, the oldest prisoner in Guantánamo Bay, wrote to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon asking for help to “uncover the truth” of the CIA’s use of Scottish airports. At that time, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government said “it would be inappropriate for the Scottish Government to discuss this matter with the UK Government”.

However, last night a spokesperson for the Scottish Justice Secretary told the Scotsman he would in fact seek UK Government support in obtaining evidence held by the US.

Paracha was kidnapped by the CIA in July 2003 in Thailand, then tortured at Bagram air base in Afghanistan, before being transferred to Guantanamo in 2004.

According to the most comprehensive mapping of rendition flights to date, by the Rendition Project, the plane which took him to Afghanistan refuelled in Glasgow before heading to the US. The Rendition Project’s report found that Scottish airports were involved in the rendition flights of at least 16 prisoners.

Reprieve Deputy Director Dan Dolan said: “This is a major development in the investigation into how Scottish airports were used in CIA rendition flights. The Scottish Government has made the right move today, and it must not let Westminster stonewall its efforts to get the evidence it needs. Nicola Sturgeon should tell Boris Johnson to stand up to Donald Trump on this issue”.