UK 'would breach law' if CIA torture flights allowed to land
BRITAIN will be guilty of flouting international law if it allowed "torture" flights carrying terror suspects to land at UK airports, it emerged today.
American legal scholars have warned that giving permission for flights to land en route to the Middle East would constitute a breach of the law.
The CIA has been accused of transporting suspected terrorists around the world to be tortured. It is claimed prisoners are flown to Eastern Europe so that aggressive interrogation techniques outlawed in the US can be deployed.
Edinburgh Airport has been named by the American authorities as one of several Scottish airports used for so-called "rendition" stops.
Photographs printed at the weekend of aircraft at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick airports of an aircraft said to be operated by a company acting as a front for the CIA. It was also pictured at Kabul airport, in Afghanistan.
MSPs have demanded a probe into whether any crimes have been committed in Edinburgh on any of the 14 such flights which have stopped in the Capital in the space of the last four years.
White House chiefs have angrily denied moving prisoners around the world so they can be tortured, a position expected to be reinforced by US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice during a tour of Europe this week.
The report by the US legal experts was commissioned by an all-party group of MPs at Westminster in the wake of claims that aircraft operated by the CIA had flown in and out of civilian airports and RAF bases in the UK 200 times since September 11, 2001.
The report, by New York University's school of law's centre for human rights and global justice, said: "A state which aids or assists another state in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so.
"Accomplice liability has been recognised in international criminal law since at least the Nuremberg trials."
Andrew Tynie, the Tory MP and chairman of the parliamentary group, said: "By apparently assisting the US in the practice of extraordinary rendition, the UK and the west are losing the moral high ground so valuable to foreign policy since the end of the Cold War."
Several European governments, as well as the European union, have launched investigations into hundreds of CIA flights which have shuttled through the continent.
The Washington Post has claimed dozens of prisoners had been wrongly taken under rendition, with some kidnapped in their home countries and held incommunicado for weeks.
The paper reported yesterday that the US had admitting that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned a Lebanese German for five months.
Khaled al-Masri was said to have been seized while on holiday in Europe last year and taken to a US prison in Afghanistan, where he was tortured and interrogated for five months over suspected links with al-Qaida.
Ministry of Defence sources have insisted that American flights can land anywhere in the UK if they have obtained diplomatic clearance.
Officials have no way of knowing who or what was on those flights.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We have no evidence to corroborate media allegations about the use of UK territory in rendition operations."
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