Government accused of ‘indifference’ over torture flights investigation

Prestwick airport has been used for rendition flights. Photograph: John Devlin
Prestwick airport has been used for rendition flights. Photograph: John Devlin
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The Scottish Government has been accused of an “alarming indifference” to the interrogation and alleged torture of terror suspects by the CIA.

A police investigation into whether Scottish airports were used as a stop-off for “rendition” flights which transferred prisoners to secret jails overseas is now into its third year.

But it remains unclear if Police Scotland have been able to secure the redacted version of a US Senate report on interrogation techniques, despite making a request to the US authorities in 2015.

Reprieve, a human rights charity, accused the Scottish authorities of dragging their heels over the investigation.

A spokesman said: “With a self-confessed fan of torture installed in the White House, the Scottish Government’s apparent indifference to this issue is alarming. President Trump has said he wants to revive the Bush-era torture programme – which saw people flown around the world to face horrific abuse in secret prisons.

“We know that the CIA jets carrying out those missions used Scottish airports but years later, we still haven’t got to the bottom of how this was allowed to happen.

“If the Scottish Government is serious about never again becoming involved in torture, it needs to give the police investigators all the support they need.”

Scotland on Sunday previously revealed how the Crown Office had instructed police to request and consider the full version of the Senate report, thought to be more than 6,000 pages. However, neither Police Scotland nor the Crown Office would confirm whether the report was ever received.

Police Scotland began its investigation in 2013 after research claimed airports including Aberdeen, Inverness and Wick had been used to transfer suspects to “secret prison and torture destinations”.

The use of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick airports had been previously identified.

The current police probe was ordered after an earlier inquiry into rendition at Scottish airports concluded there was insufficient evidence to begin a criminal investigation.

In a letter to Reprieve sent earlier this month, the Scottish Government’s Defence, Security and Cyber Security Division said: “As the request [for the report] would be made within the context of a police investigation, it would be for the Lord Advocate [James Wolffe, QC] to determine what steps are necessary with regard the law in Scotland to procure evidence that may be pertinent to the investigation.”

The Crown Office said it could not comment on an ongoing investigation.