Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Thursday, 17 December 2009

British MPs sue CIA over rendition secrets

Boeing jet allegedly used in CIA flight to Spain (2004 file)
MPs are demanding more information on rendition flights

A group of British MPs is suing the CIA to get it to release information about alleged UK involvement in the secret rendition of terror suspects.

The group - led by Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie - has filed a complaint in a district court in Washington DC.

They want a judicial review of the CIA's failure to disclose information.

They are demanding to see documents on extraordinary rendition, secret detention and the coercive interrogation of suspected terrorists.

The MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group decided to launch what they believe is a landmark legal action after Freedom of Information requests in the US and UK were rejected or where information released was incomplete or heavily redacted.

'Disclosure needed'

Mr Tyrie said: "The current drip-drip of information on rendition is hugely damaging. To achieve closure on rendition we need disclosure.

"It is in everyone's interests that the truth on the US rendition programme comes to light."

The information requests were made to the CIA, FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and UK government departments - thought to be the first time the same information has been requested in different jurisdictions under their respective freedom of information legislation.

I hope that this groundbreaking litigation will lead to comprehensive disclosure in the US
Andrew Tyrie, Conservative MP

The all-party group wants to know about agreements between the US and UK on rendition - the moving of terrorist suspects from one country to another for interrogation and possible imprisonment without legal protection.

It also wants to know about any agreements between the US and other governments on rendition and UK participation and support of US rendition and secret detention programmes.

The group is also demanding information on the use of Diego Garcia, a British territory in the Indian Ocean, to facilitate rendition - including the identity of two suspects rendered through its airspace, where they were travelling from and their destination.

They also want information on alleged terror plots, specific detainees and the transfer of detainees from UK control to US control.

'Groundbreaking legislation'

Mr Tyrie said: "Bringing this litigation against the CIA, department of defence, department of justice, and other US government agencies, represents a globalisation of accountability for two of the world's leading democracies.

"I hope that this groundbreaking litigation will lead to comprehensive disclosure in the US. Only then can we give the public confidence that we have got to the bottom of rendition and British involvement in it."

Most of the group's UK information requests are being investigated by the Information Commissioner, who rules on government refusals to disclose information.

The group plans to make similar requests to Australian government departments.

Mr Tyrie has made a series of allegations about Britain's involvement in rendition since he founded the all-party group in 2005, including claims that the UK has facilitated rendition; that Diego Garcia was used for it and that British troops have been involved.

He said: "Each allegation was categorically denied. Each has subsequently been admitted."

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