[JURIST] UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband [official profile; BBC profile] said Thursday that two US planes landed on the UK territory of Diego Garcia in 2002 to refuel during extraordinary rendition flights [JURIST news archive]. Miliband apologized [text] for previously denying that such stops had been made, saying that:
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 refueled 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. US investigations show no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other Overseas Territory or through the UK itself since then.US CIA Director Michael Hayden [official profile] on Thursday also admitted [text; AP report] that the two flights landed on British territory, saying that the information was discovered in late 2007 after the CIA reviewed records on the renditions.
Yesterday US and UK legal teams discussed the issue, and I spoke myself with Secretary Rice. We both agree that the mistakes made in these two cases are not acceptable, and she shares my deep regret that this information has only just come to light.
In 2005, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak said that there have been allegations that the US was secretly detaining prisoners [JURIST report] on military vessels at the US naval base on Diego Garcia, where the US leases land from the UK. Late last year, the UK House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee said it would investigate the allegations [JURIST report]. Hayden addressed the issue in his statement Thursday:
There has been speculation in the press over the years that CIA had a holding facility on Diego Garcia. That is false. There have also been allegations that we transport detainees for the purpose of torture. That, too, is false. Torture is against our laws and our values. And, given our mission, CIA could have no interest in a process destined to produce bad intelligence.BBC News has more.