Probe into the use of Scottish airports by CIA torture flights is still ‘ongoing’ – a decade after it was ordered to be carried out ‘with no dilly-dallying’
- A probe into the use of Scottish airports by CIA torture flights is still ‘ongoing’
- It is unclear when, or if, the inquiry will ever conclude or how much it has cost
A probe into the use of Scottish airports by CIA torture flights is still ‘ongoing’ – exactly a decade after it was ordered to be carried out ‘with no dilly-dallying’ by the country’s then legal chief.
Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland instructed an investigation into so-called rendition flights, said to have been used to take terror suspects to secret detention sites where they were allegedly tortured.
When Mr Mulholland informed MSPs in June 2013 that Scottish police would probe the flights, he said: ‘It is very important there should be no dilly-dallying on this matter. The use of torture can’t be condoned. It is against international law and contrary to the common law of Scotland.’
However, a decade on, it is unclear when, or if, the inquiry will ever conclude or how much it has cost.
It’s understood police have looked into at least six stopovers – four at Prestwick Airport and two at Glasgow. Research suggests that 13 possible rendition flights also landed at Inverness, Wick and Aberdeen between 2004 and 2006.
AIR FORCE: Gulfstream jet N379P was said to be involved in Scottish landings
It’s understood police have looked into at least six stopovers – four at Prestwick Airport and two at Glasgow
Dr Sam Raphael, professor in international relations at the University of Westminster who has conducted extensive research into the flights, said: ‘It has now been a decade and we have seen precious little.
‘The CIA’s programme of rendition and secret detention in the ‘War on Terror’ involved the most extreme forms of torture, including drowning to the point of unconsciousness and mock burial.
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‘The scars of this mistreatment live on and it remains vital we know what role Scotland played in this violation of international law, and whether any individuals broke Scottish criminal law.’
The US Senate issued a partially classified 500-page report on the CIA programme in 2014. Police Scotland asked the following year to see the full 6,000-page report, which would reveal dates, locations and other redacted details, but Scottish detectives didn’t get it.
It’s believed it would include information to show that several flights which touched down in Scotland were involved in transporting suspects for torture. One was Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, rendered from Afghanistan to Poland in 2003. Gulfstream jet N379P, dubbed the Guantanamo Express, stopped at Glasgow Airport on the way back from dropping him at a CIA prison in Poland known as Detention Site Blue.
In previous evidence to the UK’s Intelligence and Security Committee, Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said US officials had refused to let officers board a flight to check occupants. Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie, who has campaigned on the flights for years, said: ‘This supposedly ongoing investigation has ground to a halt. It would be better for the Lord Advocate to come out and say that American obstructionism is proving an unbreachable wall than to pretend that this investigation is leading anywhere fast.’
Current Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, KC, told MSPs last year: ‘The criminal investigation by Police Scotland is ongoing.’
The Scottish Mail on Sunday last month asked for an estimate of inquiry costs but Police Scotland said it was ‘too costly’ to work it out. A spokesman said: ‘All information made available is being considered by the Crown Office and Procurator
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