» Monday, December 12, 2005


Asked if the Government had ever received a request for an extra-ordinary rendition, as opposed to a rendition, the PMOS said that extra-ordinary rendition was not a phrase that we used. It was a media term. In terms of rendition the Foreign Secretary had spoken this morning about the three occasions on which he, as Home Secretary, and under the previous US administration had received requests. That was all we were aware of in terms of rendition of any kind to date. Put to him that presumably the Government had not agreed to any extra-ordinary renditions because they were illegal, the PMOS said that he would not talk about hypothetical situations. What he would talk about was what was actually the law, which was that we did not in any way condone the use of torture and would not be involved in any process that resulted in the use of torture.

Asked what he meant by rendition, the PMOS said that rendition in terms of the way in which the United States had applied it was the process of taking prisoners from one jurisdiction to another. This was a process that had been applied by the United States over many years and over many administrations.

Asked whether the three renditions were people from the UK or people passing through the UK, the PMOS said that it was best to get the details of the cases from the Foreign Office. As the Foreign Secretary had revealed this morning two of the cases, requested by the previous US administration, he had agreed to and one he rejected. All three were in 1998. Asked whether following the three CIA flights the Foreign Secretary had acknowledged if all CIA flights were considered "state" flights and formally requested and recorded as such, the PMOS said he would not go into what CIA flights were for or their numbers because by their very nature and security implication they were not things that we would want to discuss. They were however not related to rendition.

Asked how we knew that, the PMOS said that we carried out normal business with other Governments and allies in the normal way. As such we knew they were not related to rendition. The three requests under the Clinton administration showed what the normal process was in relation to rendition. Asked then what the other flights were for, the PMOS said, as he had this morning, that by their very nature we did not talk about the activities of security services, just as we did not talk about it in this country the same applied to others. He added that he would not get drawn into the numbers game but we knew that they were not for rendition. The figures reported were media figures and not ones he would confirm. The allegations did not hold up. Put to him, for the sake of clarity, that rendition was the process of taking someone from one jurisdiction to another, not extradition; as such the difference between extradition and rendition was that there was no legal proceeding in the host country, the PMOS said it was not a UK process and so he would not get into definitions.

In answer to further questions the PMOS said that the flights were not to do with rendition. What he was refusing to do was detail what the flights were about for the same reason that he would refuse to go into details about our own security service’s activities. He was refusing to engage with this line of questioning because he did not discuss the activities of security services either in this country’s or of other allies’ activities and most people could understand why.

Asked to confirm that the Government had never been asked nor would it give permission for any flights to use this country that it believed might be taking somebody to a country where they might be subjected to torture, the PMOS said that this Government had made it very clear that we did not in any way condone or participate in anything which resulted in people being tortured. Asked if the UK had a rendition process, the PMOS said no.

Asked whether representations had been made to the US administration, the PMOS said that everyone knew the general principles we adopted in relation to torture. We did not in anyway condone it. Asked whether there had been any contact between the US and UK Governments beyond accepting Dr Rice’s statement, the PMOS said that we accepted Dr Rice’s assurance.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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