US report on Scots role in terror suspect transfer

SCOTLAND’s role in the interrogation and alleged torture of terror suspects by the CIA could be laid bare by a recently declassified US intelligence report, it has been revealed.

Terrorist suspects are held, hooded and tied up, aboard a US rendition flight. Picture: Contributed

Police are currently investigating claims Scottish airports were used as a stop-off for “rendition” flights, which transferred prisoners to secret jails overseas.

Human rights charity Reprieve has written to First Minister Alex Salmond and the lord advocate, Frank Mulholland, urging that they contact US authorities over the recently declassified report on CIA torture.

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Last month, the US Senate’s intelligence committee voted to make public sections of the study, which Reprieve’s legal director, Kat Craig, believes will be of “immense value” to Police Scotland.

While the committee decided that only sections of the 6,300-page report be released, one of those, the executive summary, is thought to run to several hundred pages.

However, while the White House has agreed that parts of the report be made public, it has left the task in the hands of the CIA, which disputes much of the contents.

In her letter to the first minister, Craig said: “As you may know, the United States Senate committee on intelligence recently voted to declassify its report into CIA torture and rendition.

“This major study, which reportedly runs to 6,300 pages, would obviously be of immense value to Police Scotland’s ongoing investigation.

“Without access to the Senate committee’s report, it is hard to see how we will be able to be sure that Police Scotland’s investigation will have left no stone unturned.”

Set up by the prominent civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve is currently working on behalf of those arrested during the War on Terror and held at locations including Guantanamo Bay.

Scottish police began their own investigation last summer 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 all been previously identified.

Dr Ruth Blakeley at the University of Kent, one of those who carried out the research, said the Senate committee report was likely to provide a wealth of information for Scottish investigators.

“There are portions specifically about the rendition programme and the police may well get more than would be released to the public because they have the capacity and good reason to ask for it.

“It’s really important to stress that we don’t know if any prisoners were on flights which landed in Scotland, but it was used as a re-fuelling stop. We need to know why the British and/or Scottish authorities gave the CIA the permission to do that.”

Dr Blakeley said the research she carried out in conjunction with Dr Sam Raphael, of Kingston University in London, had identified 150 flights which went through Scottish air space between 2001-2006, 83 of which were en route to countries involved in the rendition programme.

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.

A Crown Office spokesman yesterday said: “The Lord Advocate instructed Police Scotland to reopen the investigation into rendition flights in Scotland following publication of the rendition project material conducted by researchers from the Universities of Kent and Kingston.

“As the investigation is live it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”