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[April 13, 2006]
Inquiry call over 103 'torture f lights' that landed in Scotland
(Daily Mail Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)THE scale of Scotland's role in American socalled 'torture flights' was revealed for the first time yesterday.
Whitehall released details of 177 flights using UK airports which are said by campaigners to be involved in the transfer of terror suspects to interrogation camps.
Of these, 103 of the trips, known as rendition flights, saw aircraft taking off or landing at airports north of the Border.
The revelation last night sparked fresh demands for Scottish ministers to order a full public inquiry into the country's role in the controversy.
Critics of the U.S. claim that suspects are arrested in third countries and then 'rendered' to nations such as Jordan or Egypt where torture is allowed.
The American authorities have defended the practice of rendition, which it insists is lawful, but denies the use of torture.
Focus on the flights has increased since the 9/ 11 attacks on the U.S. and the subsequent war on terror.
And a report from Amnesty International earlier this week claimed that the American flights have been en route to and from secret 'underground prisons' located somewhere in south-eastern Europe.
There, it is said, the prisoners - many of whom have allegedly been snatched off the street - are subjected to torture and interrogation.
SNP defence and foreign affairs spokesman Angus Robertson said that the information released yesterday proved there was a need for a full public inquiry.
He said: 'These details confirm the report published recently by the SNP which was submitted to the Council of Europe investigation into rendition flights.
'There is no doubt that there have been scores of intelligence flights through Scottish airports, and serious questions remain about whether they have been involved in the rendition of terrorist suspects.' The Moray MP added: 'This highlights the need for an end to the hypocrisy of the Liberal Democrats, who call for an investigation at Westminster but, where they have ministers responsible for transport at Holyrood, they are doing nothing.'
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens' justice spokesman, said: 'The more information that comes to light on this issue, the more obvious it is that Scotland has become a hub for these alleged torture flights.
' This is hardly what McConnell's "best small country in the world" wants to be associated with on the global stage. The growing mountain of data should be investigated as a matter of urgency.
'Blair may be happy to tolerate and even aid Bush breaking international law, but I'm sure the Scottish people want the role of our airports in rendition and torture to be clarified, once for and for all.
'Using Scotland as a stopover should not be considered an easy option - Greens and other campaigners will not let this issue go until some meaningful action is taken.' The Scottish airports revealed in the Department of Transport files, dating back to 2001 and released yesterday, are Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Prestwick and Wick, as well as RAF Leuchars.
The flights have included ones from Glasgow to Baghdad and from the Afghan capital Kabul to Edinburgh.
This week's Amnesty report claims the planes have been involved in flying to 'black site' prisons where hi-tech U.S.run facilities can engage in torture without breaking the law.
It cites evidence from former prisoners who claim to have been abducted, in some cases by kidnappers described as black-masked 'ninjas', before being prepared for transportation.
The victims are said to have been stripped naked and then handcuffed, blindfolded and shackled.
They claim also to have had their faces covered with surgical masks and their ears plugged with foam before being hooded and then placed on flights.
It is claimed that the U.S.
authorities removed all labels from food and clothing in the detention centres in a bid to keep the prison locations secret.
But the Department of Transport said yesterday: 'None of the information held by the department provides evidence that these flights were involved in rendition.' The Government has said that it has received only four requests by the U.S. - all dating back to the Clinton administration - for rendition flights to use the UK, and only one was accepted.
The Government admitted last week that Prestwick Airport had been used as a stopoff in June 1998 for a rendition flight carrying Mohammed Rashid, who was charged over the bombing of a Pan Am aircraft in 1982.
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