CIA torture flights in Scotland update

This video from the USA says about itself:

9 September 2010

Federal Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Boeing in CIA “Torture Flight” Program

A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit about the CIA‘s “extraordinary rendition” program under President Bush, which sent terrorism suspects abroad to be tortured. In a ruling issued Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Obama administration’s argument that the rendition program constitutes a state secret and its legality cannot be decided by courts. The lawsuit was brought against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc.

From daily the Morning Star in Britain:

Torture flight investigators ‘must access’ Senate report

Monday 26th May 2014

POLICE investigating the use of Scottish airports for CIA torture flights “must have access” to a new US Senate intelligence report on the spy agency’s secret rendition programme, justice campaigners warned yesterday.

Legal charity Reprieve has demanded that Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and chief legal officer Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland take steps to ensure the US report is provided to Police Scotland without delay.

Reprieve’s legal director Kat Craig said: “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.”

The Lord Advocate last year asked police to investigate the use of Scottish airports by the CIA for its programme of “renditions” — in which terror suspects are kidnapped and flown to another country in order to torture them with impunity.

Ms Craig said police must “get to the bottom of whether Scotland was involved — knowingly or otherwise — in the serious human rights abuses of the rendition programme.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Irish elderly peace activist jailed for opposing torture flights

This video from Ireland says about itself:

Free Margaretta D’Arcy protest at Leinster House

22 Jan. 2014

The Peace and Neutrality Alliance holds a protest calling for the release of jailed peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy (79).

This video from the USA is called Globalizing Torture: Ahead of Brennan Hearing, International Complicity in CIA Rendition Exposed.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Irish rally behind jailed peace activist Margaretta d’Arcy

Thursday 20th Febuary 2014

Irish politicians renewed their fight to free elderly peace campaigner Margaretta D’Arcy from prison.

The 79-year-old, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has cancer, was jailed in January for three months after blocking flights from Shannon airport.

Shannon was allegedly used as a stop-off point in the US extraordinary rendition programme.

Her arrest caused an uproar and serious concerns have been raised about her health.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams visited her last week and said he’d achieved assurances from Justice Minister Alan Shatter that Ms D’Arcy has “access to the full range of services in prison, including all medical services.”

Mr Adams said: “Nonetheless she is a frail and elderly woman with a serious medical condition who should not be in prison.

“Margaretta is taking a stand for Irish neutrality and for human rights and against the use of a civilian airport for military purposes, and the secret rendition of detainees to places of torture.”

Mr Adams said that both the Irish human rights commission and the UN committee against torture had condemned the government for its complicity in rendition, where terror suspects are illegally smuggled across international borders.

“Margaretta is not a criminal. She represents no threat to the public and it is outrageous that she should be still in prison. Margaretta D’Arcy should be released immediately,” he said.

Regular protests have been held calling for Ms D’Arcy’s release.

At a vigil on Wednesday outside Leinster House – the home of the Irish parliament – Unite union regional secretary Jimmy Kelly hit out at the charge on interfering with the “proper” use of Shannon airport.

“During the past decade, over two million US soldiers have passed through Shannon Airport, most on their way to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“That is not proper use of a civilian airport in a neutral state.

“During an eight-month period last year, over 350 foreign military aircraft were allowed to land at Shannon.

“That is not proper use of a civilian airport in a neutral state.”

This video is about a speech by Clare Daly, member of the Dáil in Ireland, against the incarceration of 79 year old peace activist Margaretta D’Arcy.

An 84-year-old nun was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for her part in a protest break-in at a US nuclear material storage facility. Megan Rice was convicted of sabotage earlier this year along with two other peace activists for their 2012 protest at the Oak Ridge site, which holds weapons-grade uranium: here.

84-year-old nun sentenced to prison for “sabotaging” US preparations for war: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

British complicity in torture cover-up attempt

This video is called Britain’s MI6 linked to Libya torture scandal.

It says about itself:

7 December 2013

An Al Jazeera investigation has traced how intelligence extracted by torture in a Libyan jail cell may have been used in the British legal system. A leading Libyan politician says that he was forced to name dissidents, who were then detained by the authorities in London. Al Jazeera’s Juliana Ruhfus has this exclusive report.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Anger as Ken Clarke tries to palm off torture probe

Thursday 19th December 2013

Human rights campaigners accuse government of backtrack on its pledge to investigate British complicity in torture

Human rights campaigners reacted with anger yesterday to reports that the government is trying to backtrack on its pledge to investigate British complicity in torture.

In July 2010, David Cameron announced that an independent, judge-led inquiry would be established to examine the grave allegations amid mounting evidence.

However it has been reported that Cabinet Office Minister Ken Clarke will announce today that the task is to be handed over to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), a body made up of MPs and peers appointed by the Prime Minister.

Despite being tasked with oversight of the intelligence services, the ISC has been heavily criticised for failing to spot a number of recent scandals and controversies.

Legal action charity Reprieve points out that in 2007, three years after the MI6-orchestrated “rendition” of Libyan dissidents Abdel Hakim Belhadj and Sami al-Saadi, along with their families, the ISC produced a report which claimed there was “no evidence that the UK agencies were complicit in any ‘extraordinary rendition‘ operations.”

The charity also cited the “pantomime” of the committee’s toothless questioning of the heads of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ in the wake of the recent US NSA surveillance scandal.

While hailed by the government as a major step forward for security service transparency there was little in the way of probing questioning and it subsequently emerged that the spy chiefs had been provided with the questions in advance.

None of the ISC members are judges, although it includes a former defence secretary, a former Home Office minister, and a former cabinet secretary under Tony Blair.

Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said: “If the government takes this course, it will be breaking its promise to hold a genuine, independent inquiry into UK involvement in torture.

“Worse still, it will be handing the task to a committee of MPs hand-picked by the Prime Minister, which has consistently missed major scandals involving the security services.

“The ISC not only lacks independence, it has also sadly been proven to be completely hopeless as a watchdog.

David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ken Clarke have all personally pledged to hold an independent, judge-led inquiry into torture. They must not abandon their promise in favour of a whitewash.”

CIA torture flights in Scotland

This video from the USA says about itself:

Jun 22, 2008

A protest picket outside the headquarters of Jeppesen Dataplan in San Jose, CA. Jeppesen handles the flight logistics for the CIA’s torture flights.

By Paddy McGuffin on Britain:

Online data exposes Scots torture flights

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Researchers investigating CIA-linked rendition flights in the “war on terror” highlighted today “conclusive” evidence of landings at Scottish airports.

An extensive database on the flights compiled by a university team in collaboration with human rights charity Reprieve referred to 13 stops at Aberdeen, Wick and Inverness.

The database is the work of the Rendition Project based at Kingston and Kent Universities, compiling data from freedom of information requests, legal cases, published first-hand accounts, non-governmental organisations’ investigations and authoritative news reporting to detail dozens of prisoner transfers between secret “black sites.”

An analysis of more than 11,000 flights by over 120 aircraft -linked to more than 50 private companies – reveals the roles of different countries and shows how companies tried to cover their routes by filing false flight plans or by switching aircraft halfway.

Five flights landed at Wick, a further five at Inverness and three at Aberdeen, according to the research.

The north and north-east links were not previously considered “suspicious” by the team but were highlighted for further investigation after details of flight paths emerged.

One aircraft which landed at Wick in 2004 has been “logged flying to secret prison and torture destinations,” the researchers said.

Researcher Dr Raphael told the Press and Journal newspaper: “The Rendition Project database provides conclusive evidence that airports in the north of Scotland were visited by numerous CIA planes at the height of the rendition and secret detention programme.”

A Scottish government spokesman said that responsibility lay with the Westminster government, “which states that permission for rendition flights would only ever be granted if the UK government was satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK laws and our international obligations.

“The Scottish government does not believe such flights could ever be in accordance with domestic or international law and we would not expect such consent to ever be granted.”

A spokeswoman at Aberdeen airport declined to comment.

A recent report by the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment – chaired by former Bush-era officials – heavily criticised the US programme of rendition and torture, pointing out the key role of European countries. It noted that the “CIA created its own ‘black sites’ in Poland, Romania and Lithuania.”

See also here.

U.S. must admit mistakes; torture is always wrong: here.

United States torture flights and Britain

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

New light shed on US government’s extraordinary rendition programme

Online project uncovers details of way in which CIA carried out kidnaps and secret detentions following September 11 attacks

• The Rendition Project interactive
• CIA rendition flights explained

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Abu Faraj al-Libi, one of the detainees there, was allegedly seized in Pakistan in 2005, flown to Afghanistan, switched to another aircraft and taken to the US base via Romania. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty

A groundbreaking research project has mapped the US government’s global kidnap and secret detention programme, shedding unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years.

The interactive online project – by two British universities and a legal charity – has uncovered new details of the way in which the so-called extraordinary rendition programme operated for years in the wake of the September 11 attacks, and the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to avoid detection in the face of growing public concern.

The Rendition Project website is intended to serve as a research tool that not only collates all the publicly available data about the programme, but can continue to be updated as further information comes to light.

Data already collated shows the full extent of the UK’s logistical support for the programme: aircraft associated with rendition operations landed at British airports more than 1,600 times.

Although no detainees are known to have been aboard the aircraft while they were landing in the UK, the CIA was able to refuel during operations that involved some of the most notorious renditions of the post-September 11 years, including one in which two men were kidnapped in Sweden and flown to Egypt, where they suffered years of torture, and others that involved detainees being flown to and from a secret prison in Romania.

The database also tracks rendition flights into and out of Diego Garcia, in the Chagos Islands, and suggests that flight crews enjoyed rest-and-recreation stopovers on the Turks and Caicos Islands. Both are British overseas territories.

The Rendition Project is the result of three years of work, funded by the UK taxpayer through the Economic and Social Research Council, by Ruth Blakeley, a senior lecturer at the University of Kent, and Sam Raphael, a senior lecturer at Kingston University, working with Crofton Black, an investigator with the legal charity Reprieve.

“By bringing together a vast collection of documents and data, the Rendition Project publishes the most detailed picture to date of the scale, operation and evolution of the global system of rendition and secret detention in the so-called war on terror,” said Blakeley.

Raphael said: “The database makes a major contribution to efforts to track CIA rendition flights, and provides the clearest picture so far of what was going on. It also serves as an important tool for investigators, journalists and lawyers to delve into in more detail.”

Black added: “The Rendition Project lays bare the inner workings of the logistics network underlying the US government’s secret prison programme. It’s the most accurate and comprehensive resource so far published.”

The data includes details on 11,006 flights by aeroplanes linked to the CIA’s rendition programme since 2002. Of those, 1,556 flights are classed as confirmed or suspected rendition flights, or flagged as “suspicious”, depending on the strength of the supporting evidence surrounding each.

The researchers have also confirmed 20 “dummy” flights within the data: flight paths logged with air traffic controllers, but never taken. Instead, the planes took a different route to different airports along the way, to pick up or drop off a detainee. About a dozen more flight paths are marked as possible dummy flights.

The website also weaves together first-hand testimony of detainees of their mistreatment within the secret prisons; the layout and conditions of the facilities; the movements of detainees across the globe; and documents that detail outsourcing to corporations that offered logistical support, from flights to catering and hotel reservations. In some cases, it is unclear whether the airline companies would have been aware of the purpose of the flights.

The project also brings to light new information on the methods used to avoid detection of rendition flights, particularly as journalists became aware of the programme. The project highlights “tarmac transfers” – occasions on which two planes involved in rendition met on remote airfields. The researchers believe these occasions were used to transfer detainees from one plane to another, making their rendition route far more difficult to track.

Among the prisoners who appear to have been switched from one aircraft to another in this way is Abu Faraj al-Libi, who is currently being held at the Guantánamo detention camp in Cuba. After being captured in Pakistan in May 2005, he appears to have been flown to Afghanistan, where he was switched to another aircraft and taken to Bucharest.

British torture politician David Miliband now ‘humanitarian’?

In the royal dictatorship of Bahrain, there is a prince, best known for torturing athletes. That prince recently tried to “refugee-wash” his bloody image by posing as someone who cares about the plight of Syrian refugees.

This prince, His Royal Highness Shaikh Nasser Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, is not the only bigwig in the world trying to clean up his unappetizing image like this.

This video says about itself:

Sep 24, 2010

Documents recently brought to light in the UK show MI6 sought government approval to detain and question terror suspects in countries renowned for their poor human rights records. The decision was enforced by David Miliband who, at that time, served as the U.K.’s foreign secretary. It’s a move critics have likened to sanctioning torture, something Miliband denies.

Tim Cook-Hurle, who works for a charity group, Reprieve, which specializes in torture investigations, gave an interview on the subject to RT. The activist said that the case was still under investigation, but it is possible that the authorities and, in particular, David Miliband, failed to do all they could to prevent the secret services from applying torture techniques to those suspected of terrorism. Furthermore, Mr. Cook-Hurle added that even in case David Miliband is proven not guilty of sanctioning torture, then the process of decision making must be questioned as it is very likely that the reports about torture are true.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Celebrating Easter, Miliband-style

Friday 29 March 2013

Millions of devotees around the world will come together to commemorate the day that Jesus hatched from an egg. Something like that anyway…

Sugar-crazed kiddies will be bouncing off the walls gorging themselves on cocoa-based confectionary until they vomit, which may not be entirely in keeping with the spirit in which the day was initially intended to be celebrated.

Someone who can’t be accused of not taking the message seriously is David Miliband.

Easter, we are told, is about self-sacrifice, redemption and new beginnings.

Well, one out of three isn’t bad I suppose.

Miliband has left to head up the amusingly monickered US charity the International Rescue Committee.

This video is called [Gerry Anderson‘s] Thunderbirds Are GO part 1.

International Rescue, readers of a certain vintage will no doubt recall, was the official name of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds.

Famously wooden, highly strung, with awkward movements and odd transatlantic accents, the Milibands have always been at the weirder end of the British political spectrum.

His departure sees yet another new Labour rat fleeing the sinking ship of the Blair project – and good riddance is all this column can say.

Miliband, most commonly remembered for having been usurped by his little brother for the party leadership in true Old Testament style, took the same route as his mentor the blessed Tony.

Both took thousands in payments for non-executive directorships, after-dinner speeches, lectures and unspecified services to regimes with dubious human rights records before quitting and then going on to head a charitable organisation.

A brief perusal of the most recent register of MPs’ interests shows that Miliband was paid £25,000 quarterly by Sunderland FC for a grand total of 15 days’ work.

He also got £23,210 in quarterly payments for a Herculean four days’ work with the Vantagepoint Cleantech Advisory Council and received a one-off payment of £64,475 from those fine upstanding people at the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

All this was of course on top of his MP’s salary of £68k plus expenses.

Miliband minor, paying tribute to his brother this week, claimed that British politics would be a “poorer place” without him. By this column’s calculations we’re about 80 grand a year better off.

Blair of course went on to establish the typically self-effacingly entitled Tony Blair Faith Foundation, apparently in a bid to unite the world in loathing of him.

The only real surprise in either case was that their exits were of their own volition and not in handcuffs.

The sheer hypocrisy of Miliband, who was up to his neck in two imperialist bloody wars and who was directly responsible for attempting to cover up Britain’s roles in torture and rendition, being appointed as president of a charity which boasts as its mission statement that it “responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people to survive and rebuild their lives” beggars belief.

It is informative to note that Miliband’s last significant contribution to British politics was, along with another former foreign secretary Jack Straw, to vote against his own party’s proposed amendments to the Justice and Security Bill.

Now, why might two men who both face potential charges over their role in rendition and torture have been supportive of a Bill which would allow all evidence of rendition and torture to be buried…?

Those of a cynical nature might also question whether the decision to move to New York at this particular juncture might have something to do with the fact that the US has refused to sign up to the International Criminal Court.

Miliband said he was quitting as he did not wish to be a “distraction.”

Yes, you can see how having your older brother hauled up on war crimes charges could be somewhat distracting.

U.S. Engaged in Torture After 9/11, Review Concludes: here.

Poland CIA torture scandal continues

This video says about itself:

Secret prisons in Europe, finds EU special committee

Apr 12, 2012 Secret detention centres and an organised system supporting the CIA’s rendition programme were in place in several EU countries, according to the findings of European Parliament special committee.

A report investigating allegations of human rights violations claims arrangements existed in Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Denmark, Finland and Britain.

The European Parliament organised hearings with NGO’s and human rights institutions to gather additional data about the alleged complicity of some EU member-states’ governments in the CIA’s rendition programme.

“Nothing has been done in member states to truly investigate and get to the bottom of the problem. There is an obligation not only not to torture or to be an accomplice in torture. But there is an obligation to investigate, to ensure accountability,” said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture.

Many of the inquiries conducted in recent years by member states have been classified.

Those findings were not made available for the follow up report that the European parliament is preparing. The report’s author says a joined up approach is imperative.

Acknowledging the failures or difficulties members states have had in tackling the problem, the European Union should take this issue into its own hands so that finally, the information can become freely accessible,” said Hélène Flautre, MEP and rapporteur for Civil Liberties Committee.

From Inter Press Service news agency:

Poland Cornered Over Its Secret Prisons

Friday, March 8, 2013 – 09:21

WARSAW, Mar 08 (IPS) – A Polish official investigation into the existence of a secret CIA prison on its territory is being stalled, according to official sources, while pressure on the country to tell the truth mounts.

Various public sources, from Dick Marty’s 2007 Council of Europe report to the recent Globalising Torture study of Open Society Foundations, claim Poland hosted a secret CIA prison used in the extraordinary rendition programme from the end of 2002. Under this programme, the U.S. detained and interrogated terrorism suspects in Europe.

Evidence comes from official sources. The 2004 CIA Inspector General report, which discusses CIA’s treatment of prisoners thought to be linked to Al-Qaeda in the period 2001-2003, details the case of Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri, alleged leader of Al-Qaeda in the Persian Gulf and suspected of organising the bombing of warship USS Cole. Seventeen US servicemen were killed in the attack on the ship in the Yemeni port Aden in October 2000.

According to the report, by November 2002 Al-Nashiri had been detained by the CIA and enhanced interrogation techniques (EIT) were applied on him “through to 4 December 2002.” A heavily redacted further section reads, “two waterboard sessions in November 2002 after which (…) Al-Nashiri was compliant. However, after being moved (…) Al-Nashiri was thought to be withholding information.”

These fragments show Al-Nashiri was moved immediately after Dec. 4 to a new location, where EIT were applied on him again.

Poland seems to be this new location. Documents disclosed by the Polish Border Guards to the Polish Helsinki Foundation show that flight N63MU landed at Polish Szymany airport on Dec. 5, 2002, coming from Thailand (where CIA prisoners were thought to have been taken at first) via Dubai with eight passengers and four crew members; it left Poland with only the four crew.

No other flights – but N63MU to Poland – on which Al-Nashiri could have been moved have been discovered: “We have comprehensive data for 200-300 planes suspected or known to have done renditions – all U.S. registered private jets,” Crofton Black, investigator at UK NGO Reprieve, told IPS. “Having surveyed all these planes, it does appear there is no other relevant movement from Thailand on or around Dec. 5.” Black, however, adds that relevant flights might still be discovered.

In addition to such evidence (which can be brought for other terrorism suspects too), officials from governments and intelligence services of various countries, including Poland and the U.S., interviewed by UN and EU bodies, NGOs and journalists, point to the fact that the Polish site was key to the CIA scheme.

Those sources continue to speak under the condition of anonymity because both Poland and the U.S. refuse to officially reveal details about how rendition functioned.

In Poland, a prosecutors’ investigation started in 2008 has recently taken a dubious turn.

Until a year ago, the investigation was conducted by the Warsaw prosecutors’ office, under two successive prosecutors. In 2011, Poland’s main daily Gazeta Wyrbocza reported that the first prosecutor reached the point of asking legal experts about the implications of Poland hosting a site where foreign agents tortured prisoners.

In 2012, Polish media reported that the second prosecutor assigned to the case told Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, Poland’s head of intelligence services between 2002 and 2004, that charges would be brought against him for violating international law by allowing the unlawful detention of prisoners in Poland. Siemiatkowski confirmed the charges.

After this news came out, the case was moved to Krakow.

Mikolaj Pietrzak, the Polish lawyer for Al-Nashiri, has won the right to be updated on the investigation since his client was granted victim status by Polish authorities in 2010. Pietrzak told IPS that he had enjoyed good cooperation with the Warsaw prosecutors, having even been granted access to the entire file (including to classified information) by the second investigator. Since the case moved to Krakow, he has seen solely non-classified information and only after significant pressure from his side.

“It is extremely irregular that a case be shifted to three different prosecutors,” Pietrzak said. “And the fact that in the last year nothing has gone forward apparently is a very sad statement about the investigation.”

Piotr Kosmaty, a Krakow prosecutors’ office spokesperson, confirmed to IPS that the case which was supposed to be finalised this February has received a set extension, but the new timeline is not public.

According to Adam Bodnar, head of the legal division at Helsinki Foundation, “all the steps to prolong the investigation are meant to avoid making a formal and conclusive decision in this case.”

“This is a hot potato situation for Polish prosecutors and politicians,” Bodnar told IPS. “They cannot just redeem Poland, that would cause an outcry, but pressing charges against Siemiatkowski or Leszek Miller (former prime minister of Poland between 2001 and 2004) is also impossible in the current political configuration. So they try to prolong it as much as possible.”

Yet sweeping this case under the rug might be impossible for Poland.

Al-Nashiri opened a case against Poland at the European Court of Human Rights, and lawyers for Abu Zubaydah, the first “high value detainee” in the CIA programme who was also allegedly brought to Poland on the same N63MU flight, are preparing a similar case.

According to Pietrzak and Bodnar, even if Poland does not disclose any information to the ECHR (it has refused to do so until now), there is enough evidence to prove the country violated the Geneva Conventions, for not having offered protection to these individuals on its soil and for allowing them to be transferred to the U.S., where they are vulnerable to the death penalty.

Pietrzak, who has at one point seen the full file of the Polish investigation, claims: “This case is going to be very difficult to overturn, becase there is a lot of evidence, and you simply cannot pretend that what is there in the prosecutors’ file doesn’t exist.”

The lawyer says that in case the Polish investigation is closed with no result, as a representative of a victim he has the procedural right to appeal in front of a Polish court. In that case, he can bring all the confidential information he has seen as evidence.

Tony Blair’s Libyan torture scandal, continued

This video from Britain says about itself:

New evidence of UK complicity in Libya torture

8 February 2013

Exclusive: what was the role of MI6 and Tony Blair’s government in the kidnap of Abdul-Hakim Belhaj from Malaysia in March 2004, which delivered him into the hands of Colonel Gaddafi’s torturers?

His cell is a living coffin.

Stretch your hands out and your fingers trail against both of the side walls. Turn your body around and your fingers are tantalisingly close to the back wall and the metal cell door, writes Kevin Toolis.

In the heat of the Libyan summer the concrete walls baked like a furnace radiating heat, 130F degrees plus, into the airless cell. In the winter, in freezing temperatures, rain poured through the open roof grille soaking the two filthy blankets given as a bed. And then there was the solitude.

For one year Abdel Hakim Belhaj was entombed as the only prisoner in the solitary confinement block deep inside the Gaddafi regime’s notorious Abu Salim prison. His only human contact was the twice-daily visit by the guard to drop off food.

But outside the cell was worse. “When I was taken out of the cell for interrogations I was treated very violently. I was blindfolded and handcuffed with my hands tied behind my back. I was often beaten in these small corridors. It depended on the shifts of the guards.

“Some took pleasure in treating us badly or if they were pressurising us to say something they want. Sometimes they would make me stand hooded for long hours in the blazing sun and I would long to be back in this cell despite knowing how hard it was just to be here. It was my sanctuary.

“In the cell I used to spend the time reading the Koran and waiting, waiting for the hope that didn’t go away, that God Almighty will take away this suffering. I thank God I survived to take back my freedom.”

What is less clear, though, is the role of MI6, and Tony Blair’s government, with the CIA’s help, in the kidnap of Mr Belhaj and his pregnant wife Fatima Boucher from Malaysia in March 2004 which delivered them into the hands of Gaddafi’s torturers.

Through his English lawyers Leigh Day & Co, Mr Belhaj is now suing former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw, the then deputy head of MI6 Sir Mark Allen, MI6, MI5, the Foreign Office and Home Office for their alleged complicity in his torture.

For 10 years British politicians like Jack Straw, Gordon Brown and David Miliband have flatly denied that the British state was complicit in torture during the war on terror. But new evidence in Mr Belhaj’s case appears to strongly challenge those claims.

In one of Gaddafi’s luxurious offices, Mr Belhaj showed Channel 4 News piles of Libyan copies of top secret MI6 documents detailing phone numbers, passport numbers and the postal codes of Libyan opponents of Gaddafi living in Manchester as proof of the depth of collaboration between MI6 and the Gaddafi regime. Other documents in English listed the names and whereabouts of Libyan exiles in Iran and showed MI6 trading information gathered in Teheran with the Libyan regime.

Most importantly of all, the files also contained a crucial memorandum of understanding, dating from October 2002, detailing a two-day meeting in Libya between Gaddafi’s external intelligence agency and two senior heads of MI6 and one from MI5 outlining joint plans for “intelligence exchange, counter terrorism and mutual co-operation”. Channel 4 News is not naming the British officials but they are clearly identified on the document.

Other secret files relating to Mr Belhaj’s rendition were discovered by foreign journalists during the fall of Tripoli in 2011, but these new files are far more detailed, wide ranging and, crucially, come from the Libyan side of the intelligence exchange.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Libyan says he would settle torture claims for £3 and apology

Monday 04 March 2013

A Libyan claimant dealt a major blow to government claims that secret courts are needed to prevent multimillion-pound payouts today, saying he’d settle his case for £3 and an apology.

Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and wife Fatima Boudchar – opponents of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi – are suing the British government, former foreign secretary Jack Straw and former MI6 counter-terrorism director Mark Allen over their alleged role in the couple’s 2004 rendition and torture.

Documents surfaced after the fall of the Gaddafi regime showing that Mr Allen had written to Libyan spy chief Moussa Koussa to say that while the US paid the “air cargo” for the rendition the “intelligence … was British.”

The pair argue that Mr Straw would have had to sign off on the MI6 operation as foreign secretary.

Ken Clarke – the otherwise jobless minister responsible for the Justice and Security Bill – has claimed that secret courts are needed to prevent the government being forced to pay out in cases it can’t defend because of security concerns.

But Mr Belhaj wrote to the defendents, saying: “I am making an open offer to settle our litigation.

“My wife and I are willing to end our case against the UK government and Messrs Straw and Allen in exchange for a token compensation of a British pound from each defendant, an apology and an admission of liability for what was done to us.”

He adds: “Various media reports I have seen suggest that our motive for bringing this case is to enrich ourselves. I wish to lay this misconception to rest.

“We have come to court in Britain because we believe your courts can deliver justice.”

Legal action charity Reprieve legal director Cori Crider said: “What our clients want from the government is an admission, an apology and an explanation of how this was allowed to happen.

“The next time the government repeats its mantra that secret courts will save the public purse, remember – this family was willing to walk away for £3.”

Blair and Libya: here.

Fifty governments in global torture

This video from the USA says about itself:

Sep 29, 2006

Based on incorrect information, Canadian ‘renditions’ victim Mahar Arar was kidnapped by U.S. authorities and sent to Syria to be tortured. Arar explains why he told the torturers the lies they wanted to hear.

By Joshua Hersh in the USA:

Extraordinary Rendition Report Finds More Than 50 Nations Involved In Global Torture Scheme

Posted: 02/04/2013 11:14 pm EST  |  Updated: 02/05/2013 11:24 am EST

WASHINGTON — The U.S. counterterrorism practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which suspects were quietly moved to secret prisons abroad and often tortured, involved the participation of more than 50 nations, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Open Society Foundations.

The OSF report, which offers the first wholesale public accounting of the top-secret program, puts the number of governments that either hosted CIA “black sites,” interrogated or tortured prisoners sent by the U.S., or otherwise collaborated in the program at 54. The report also identifies by name 136 prisoners who were at some point subjected to extraordinary rendition.

The number of nations and the names of those detained provide a stark tally of a program that was expanded widely — critics say recklessly — by the George W. Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and has been heavily condemned in the years since. In December, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, condemned the CIA’s detention and interrogation efforts as “terrible mistakes.”

Although Bush administration officials said they never intentionally sent terrorism suspects abroad in order to be tortured, the countries where the prisoners seemed to end up — Egypt, Libya and Syria, among others — were known to utilize coercive interrogation techniques.

Extraordinary rendition was also a factor in one of the greatest intelligence blunders of the Bush years. Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a Libyan national and top al Qaeda operative who was detained in Pakistan in late 2001, was later sent by the U.S. to Egypt. There, under the threat of torture, he alleged that Saddam Hussein had trained al Qaeda in biological and chemical warfare. He later withdrew the claim, but not before the U.S. invaded Iraq in part based on his faulty testimony.

When he came into office, President Barack Obama pledged to end the U.S. government’s use of torture and issued an executive order closing the CIA’s secret prisons around the world.

But Obama did not fully end the practice of rendition, which permits the U.S. to circumvent any due process obligations for terrorism suspects. Instead, the administration said it was relying on the less certain “diplomatic assurances” of host countries that they would not torture suspects sent to them for pretrial detention.

This decision, the OSF report concludes, was tantamount to continuing the program, since in the absence of any public accounting, it was impossible to measure the accuracy of those “assurances.”

Without any public government records to read, Amrit Singh, the OSF’s top legal analyst for national security and counterterrorism and the new report’s author, turned to news reports, the investigations of a global network of human rights organizations, and the proceedings of a handful of foreign courts that have investigated their own countries’ practices.

What Singh saw was a hasty global effort, spearheaded by the United States in the months after 9/11, to bypass longstanding legal structures in order to confront the emerging threat of international terrorism.

Singh condemned the consequences of that effort in the report’s introduction. “By enlisting the participation of dozens of foreign governments in these violations, the United States further undermined longstanding human rights protections enshrined in international law — including, in particular, the norm against torture,” she wrote.

“Responsibility for this damage does not lie solely with the United States,” Singh added, “but also with the numerous foreign governments without whose participation secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations could not have been carried out.”

The list of those nations includes a range of American allies (Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany) and familiar Middle Eastern partners in the messy fight against radical Islam (Jordan, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates). Their alleged levels of participation vary widely, from countries like Poland, which agreed to host CIA black-site prisons, to nations like Portugal and Finland, which merely allowed their airspace and airports to be used for rendition flights.

A few of the nations involved, such as Australia and Sweden, have begun a process of public accounting and compensation for their roles in the process. Others, including Italy and Macedonia, have recently become embroiled in trials of local officials and CIA agents in absentia over their actions.

This story has been updated with links to the Open Society Foundations report, released Tuesday.

Compensation for Tony Blair torture victim

This video is called Tony Blair meets Colonel Gaddafi in Libya.

By Paddy McGuffin in Britain:

Torture victim given £2.2m

Thursday 13 December 2012

A Libyan dissident forcibly returned to Tripoli in 2004 to face imprisonment and torture has accepted over £2 million in compensation in a settlement with the British government over its role in his illegal rendition.

Ministers have agreed to pay £2.23m compensation to the family of Sami al-Saadi but have not admitted liability.

Mr Saadi was forced aboard a plane in Hong Kong along with his wife and four young children in a joint British-US-Libyan operation.

In Tripoli he was imprisoned and tortured by the Gadaffi regime.

Evidence of Britain’s involvement emerged after the regime fell last year.

CIA correspondence with Libyan intelligence, discovered by Human Rights Watch in Tripoli, states: “we are … aware that your service had been co-operating with the British to effect [Mr Saadi’s] removal to Tripoli … the Hong Kong government may be able to co-ordinate with you to render [Mr Saadi] and his family into your custody.”

The operation followed Tony Blair‘s “Deal in the Desert” with late dictator Muammar Gadaffi, which saw Britain agree to help track down and hand over his opponents.

Mr Saadi said: “My family suffered enough when they were kidnapped and flown to Gadaffi’s Libya.

“They will now have the chance to complete their education in the new, free Libya. I will be able to afford the medical care I need because of the injuries I suffered in prison.

“I started this process believing that a British trial would get to the truth in my case. But today, with the government trying to push through secret courts, I feel that to proceed is not best for my family.

“I went through a secret trial once before, in Gadaffi’s Libya. In many ways, it was as bad as the torture. It is not an experience I care to repeat.”

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “We now know that Tony Blair’s ‘Deal in the Desert’ was bought with ugly compromises.

“Perhaps the ugliest was for MI6 to deliver a whole family to one of the world’s most brutal dictators. There needs to be a full and fair inquiry into these issues, and it ought to get started right away.”

A second Libyan, Abdul Hakim Belhaj, who also suffered rendition and torture, will continue to pursue legal action against the British government.