Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Faces Grilling over Torture Flights 'Cover-Up'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair Faces Grilling over Torture Flights 'Cover-Up'

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL WAUGH

TONY BLAIR was today facing fresh claims that the Government is covering up details of US "torture flights" that have passed through Britain.

The Prime Minister was forced onto the defensive after MPs issued a damning report into the American practice of "extraordinary rendition" - secretly flying terror suspects to camps across the globe where they may be tortured.

Mr Blair, who was holding his monthly Downing Street press conference today, was also sure to be quizzed over Guantanamo Bay after Attorney General Lord Goldsmith made clear his misgivings about the US camp last night.

The National Air Traffic Services confirmed yesterday that two aircraft chartered by the CIA had made "around 200 flights" in British airspace in the last five years.

Critics believe the planes were refuelling before shipping terror suspects to torture camps abroad.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is set to be summoned before Parliament over the rendition issue amid claims that the Ministry of Defence has details of the flights' origin and destination. The foreign-affairs select committee was set to demand Mr Straw give new evidence in public after he suggested he would only agree to talk in private to the intelligence and security committee.

Britain and the US have not denied that the flights by an unmarked Gulfstream jet and a Boeing 737 were chartered by the CIA. The Prime Minister has insisted to MPs there is no record of the Bush administration even asking for help in moving suspects.

The Foreign Office and other departments have all said that they are "unaware" of any rendition flights.

The Parliamentary Ombudsman may be called into the affair after the MoD said details of the flights could only be retrieved "at disproportionate cost" to the taxpayer. …

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