Diego Garcia used for ‘extraordinary rendition’

Chagos Islanders picketing Downing Street demanding their right to return to their homes
Chagos Islanders picketing Downing Street demanding their right to return to their homes

Foreign Secretary David Miliband yesterday admitted that on two occasions, both in 2002, UK overseas territory Diego Garcia had been used for US rendition flights.

In a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, he said: ‘The US government has told us that neither of the men was a British national or a British resident. One is currently in Guantanamo Bay. The other has been released.’

Miliband said that the then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on 12 December 2005, twice in January 2006 and in a letter of 6 February’ had categorically denied rendition flights had landed or passed over Diego Garcia.

In March 2007, the then Prime Minister Tony Blair had given the same assurances.

Miliband said he was ‘sorry’ to have to report the need to correct these and other statements ‘on the basis of new information passed to officials on 15 February 2008 by the US Government.

‘Contrary to earlier explicit assurances that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, recent US investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred.

‘An error in the earlier US records search meant that these cases did not come to light.

‘In both cases a US plane with a single detainee on board refuelled at the US facility in Diego Garcia.

‘The detainees did not leave the plane, and the US government has assured us that no US detainees have ever been held on Diego Garcia.’

Tory MP William Hague pointed out that assurances were given as recently as 18 July last year by foreign office minister Lord Malloch Brown that ‘no terror suspects have been or are being held at Diego Garcia or at any time have passed in transit through Diego Garcia or its territorial waters or air space.’

Hague asked how confident was Miliband ‘that further such cases will not come to light?’