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Britain Reveals US Used British Territory for Rendition Flights


Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband has revealed that the United States used the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to transport terrorism suspects in 2002. VOA's Sonja Pace has details from London.

Speaking before parliament on Thursday, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the United States recently informed Britain that two planes, each carrying a terror suspect, landed and refueled at an American base on the island of Diego Garcia.

"Contrary to earlier explicit assurances, that Diego Garcia had not been used for rendition flights, U.S. investigations have now revealed two occasions, both in 2002, when this had in fact occurred," he said.

The U.S. has admitted using the practice of "rendition" to secretly transport terror suspects outside normal extradition proceedings. Washington had previously assured Britain that British airspace or airports had not been used for rendition flights.

Miliband said he discussed the latest revelations with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza 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," he added.

Speaking at a news conference during a visit to Brussels, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the new revelations about U.S. rendition flights are a "very serious" issue.

"We have just been informed by the United States of America about what has actually happened," he said. "The United States has expressed regret for us not knowing about these issues. We share the disappointment that everybody has about what has actually happened."

Mr. Brown said it is important to put in place procedures to ensure this never happens again.

The practice of rendition has been widely criticized, including by human rights groups who say the CIA snatched terror suspects and then transported them for interrogation to secret prisons in Europe or to countries where they faced possible torture.