Date registered: Sep 2004
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British police say no evidence for CIA flights claim
Sat Jun 9, 9:29 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters) - British police say they have found no evidence to support claims CIA planes transporting terrorism suspects to face possible torture in secret prisons in Europe landed illegally at British airports.
The allegations over the "extraordinary rendition" flights, made by British human rights group Liberty, could not be substantiated, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said in a statement late on Friday.
Michael Todd, the chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, had agreed to look at the Liberty allegations after it wrote to 10 police forces in November 2005.
Liberty asked police to investigate whether the United States used British airports to transport suspects to countries where they might face torture, in breach of British law.
Its request came after the Guardian newspaper reported the CIA had flown planes into Britain around 210 times since 2001.
"Mr. Todd has now examined all of the information available relating to this issue and has concluded that there is indeed no evidence to substantiate Liberty's allegations," ACPO said.
Liberty questioned the timing of the police announcement, released on the same day a European investigator said he had proof Poland and Romania hosted secret CIA prisons.
"When politicians spin it is disappointing," said Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti.
"When police engage in the same activity it is rather more dangerous."
Swiss senator Dick Marty said on Friday top al Qaeda suspects were interrogated using methods akin to torture in Polish and Romanian prisons, in a report for the Council of Europe human rights watchdog.
He said U.S. intelligence and other sources told him the two countries hosted the jails under a CIA program, created by President George W. Bush's administration after 9/11, "to 'kill, capture and detain' terrorist suspects deemed of 'high value."'
In an earlier report last year Marty named Britain as one of a number of countries that provided refueling stopovers for flights involving the unlawful transfer of detainees.
He listed Prestwick airport in Scotland as part of a "spider's web" of flights and secret jails.
The British government said last year it had no evidence of detainees being transferred through British territory or its airspace since 2001.
But it said six planes identified by campaigners as involved in rendition flights landed at British airports 73 times between 2001 and 2005.
Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said there was no evidence any of these flights were involved in rendition.