Skip to main content

UK: CIA rendition flights used British soil

  • Story Highlights
  • UK says British territory used to transport suspects in CIA's rendition program
  • U.S. State Department regrets UK given wrong info; says it was admin error
  • Foreign Secretary David Miliband said planes refueled on British soil
  • Aircraft landed in Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Thursday that British territory was used to transport two suspects in the CIA's rendition program.


David Miliband said two suspects in the CIA rendition program were transported via British soil.

The British government previously had said it played no part in the program. The foreign secretary said Thursday's revelations were the result of "new information" the United States gave to Britain last Friday.

The U.S. State Department said it regretted Britain was given wrong information and called it "an administrative error."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: "We express regret that we initially provided inaccurate information to a good friend and ally."

Miliband told the House of Commons that two flights, each carrying a U.S. detainee, refueled in 2002 in Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean.

Miliband said the U.S. government had assured Britain that no U.S. detainees were ever held on Diego Garcia.

Don't Miss

  • CIA flights to Greenland investigated

He said the planes only refueled at the U.S. facility on the island, and the detainees never left the plane.

He said a U.S. investigation showed no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other UK territory since then.

Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair assured the government's Intelligence and Security Committee last March that the United States had never rendered any detainees through the UK or its overseas territories since Sept. 11, 2001. The committee released a report last June saying it was satisfied with the findings.

Miliband said the government had a "deep disappointment" about the late news of the rendition flights, but he said Britain believed the United States acted "in good faith" when it made the initial assurances that no flights had taken place.

"Secretary Rice has underlined to me the firm U.S. understanding that there will be no rendition through the UK, UK airspace or overseas territories without express British government permission," he said.

Mike Gapes, chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, was less forgiving about the late information. His committee published its annual report on human rights last April in which it already expressed concerns about rendition.

"The fact that the United States Bush Administration has clearly misled or lied to our government has resulted in our government inadvertently misleading a select committee of this house and members of this house," Gapes said. "The United States administration has to bear in mind that this is a most serious matter and we do not wish to see it repeated."

CNN obtained a copy of a message CIA Director Mike Hayden sent to CIA employees in which he said the information surfaced late last year when the agency "took a fresh look" at records of rendition flights. He said it was important to take responsibility for the error.

"Given our mission, CIA could have no interest in a process destined to produce bad intelligence," he wrote.

In his message, Hayden says speculation about a CIA holding facility on Diego Garcia -- and allegations that the detainees are transported for the purpose of torture -- are "false."

"Torture is against our laws and our values," Hayden wrote.

The European Parliament and human rights groups have condemned the CIA's practice of rendition, in which the United States moved a suspected terrorist in CIA custody from one country to another.


Critics claim the suspects are turned over to foreign intelligence services who use harsher interrogation methods, including torture.

As for the two detainees transported through Diego Garcia, Miliband said neither was a British national or resident. One is currently being held at Guantanamo Bay and the other has been released, he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Central Intelligence AgencySeptember 11 AttacksEuropean ParliamentDavid Miliband

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print