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Britain Acknowledges Two 'Rendition' Cases

Britain has admitted that two terror suspects captured in 2004 by British forces in Iraq were later surrendered to the United States and transferred to a prison in Afghanistan.

Defense Minister John Hutton's admission came Thursday in London. It contrasts with previous British assurances there were no such cases of British participation in the highly controversial U.S. practice known as extraordinary rendition.

Under the practice, terrorism suspects in U.S. custody were transferred to third countries, where critics say they sometimes faced torture to gain information.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush had repeatedly insisted U.S. forces did not transfer prisoners to countries known to practice torture.

Hutton told British lawmakers Thursday of two cases of British troops handing over suspects to U.S. forces. He said the suspects, arrested in southeastern Iraq in 2004, appeared to be Pakistani and are still being held in Afghanistan.

British lawmakers in recent years have demanded a full government accounting of what it knows about the transfer of foreign terrorism suspects to third countries without court approval. Opposition members and human rights groups have been highly critical of the procedure, saying such transfers violate a host of internationally accepted human rights protections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.