More claims that Britian colluded with torture

The Independent on Sunday reports:

Britain faces fresh accusations that it colluded in the rendering and alleged torture of a second UK resident now being held at Guantanamo Bay. The new claims bring further pressure on ministers to come clean about the scale of the Government’s complicity in the rendition and torture of dozens of terror suspects captured by the Americans after 9/11.

His case comes after that of Binyam Mohamed, 30, released from the US naval base in Cuba last week, and whose claims of UK involvement in his torture are being investigated by the Attorney General. Now allegations made by Shaker Aamer, the final British resident held at Guantanamo Bay, raise concerns that both MI5 and MI6 were widely involved in the US rendition and torture programme operated in Afghanistan and Pakistan after 9/11.

Perhaps the most damning part of the article is the list of quotes from official sources, tracing how the official line has changed over rendition (that’s kidnapping to you and me) and torture:

No one told us

20 November, 2005

“These are privately chartered aircraft and they don’t need to tell us who is on board.”

Department of Transport

We don’t keep track of such things

22 November, 2005

“Where passengers do not leave the airfield, the MoD … does not record details of passengers.”

Adam Ingram, then Defence minister

No one asked us

30 November, 2005

The Government is “not aware of the use of their territory or airspace for the purposes of extraordinary rendition, nor have we received any requests, [or] granted any permission for the use of UK territory or airspace for such purposes”.

Foreign Office

It never happened

5 December, 2005

“We have no evidence to corroborate media allegations about use of UK territory in rendition operations.”

Foreign Office

We have no record

13 December, 2005

“Careful research has been unable to identify any occasion … when we have received a request for permission by the United States for a rendition through the United Kingdom territory or airspace …. Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories … there is simply no truth in claims that the UK has been involved in rendition.”

Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary

There’s no evidence

22 December, 2005

“I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all.

“I am not going to start ordering inquiries into this, that or the next thing when I have got no evidence to show whether this is right or not.”

Tony Blair, then Prime Minister

We’ve done nothing illegal

20 January, 2006

“Anything we do in relation to rendition is in compliance with our international obligations. We fulfil our legal obligations.”

Tony Blair’s spokesman

They’d have to ask us first

16 February, 2006

“We have made clear to [the US] we expect them to seek permission to render detainees via British airspace.”

Ian Pearson, then Foreign Office minister

We’ve never given permission

7 October, 2006

“Mr Hoon … made clear that the British Government has not approved and will not approve a policy of supporting the transfer of individuals through the UK to places where there are substantial grounds to suspect that they face the risk of torture.”

Foreign Office

OK, they did it twice. But that’s all

25 February, 2008

“The two flights from the US already identified are the only ones we are aware of.”

Foreign Office

Yes, we were involved. And we shouldn’t have been

27 February, 2009

“In retrospect, it is clear to me that the transfer to Afghanistan of these two individuals should have been questioned at the time.”

John Hutton, Defence Secretary

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