The torture files

PUBLISHED: 15:34 29 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:48 16 August 2010

HUMAN rights groups have urged the government to release information about whether an airport was used to fly suspected terrorists abroad to face torture.

HUMAN rights groups have urged the government to release information about whether an airport was used to fly suspected terrorists abroad to face torture.

Developments in the legal cases of two men who were 'rendered' to secret jails, where they allegedly suffered horrific abuse, have led to calls to release information about 'suspicious' flights from Biggin Hill airport in 2002.

Last Friday, Sussex-based flight planning company Jeppesen UK, which regularly provides services for planes to and from Biggin Hill, retracted their objection to a case against their involvement in Binyam Mohamed's rendition being heard in court. It means masses of confidential information relating to 'ghost planes' will be made public at a trial expected to take place in October.

Ethiopian-born Mr Mohamed claims he was tortured in Morocco and Pakistan before being detained in Guantanamo Bay.

It is alleged Jeppesen secured travel permits and arranged fuel and flight plans, knowing it was for rendition.

Human rights group Reprieve, acting on behalf of Mr Mohamed, said Jeppesen had u-turned on their attempt to get the case struck out after seeing the 419-page dossier against them and called on the government to divulge information on other possible renditions.

Reprieve investigator, Clara Gutteridge, said: "We have flight logs of two suspicious planes associated to the CIA which landed at Biggin Hill in 2002, which is around the time renditions started happening.

"They may have been used in rendition. We are only confident in saying a flight was used to render if we can connect it to a specific case. We have so far not connected these flights to a specific rendition but they were definitely associated to the CIA.

"It is possible they were used for rendition and that is why the government must release the information because they are the only ones who have it. There are hundreds of suspicious flights from UK airports."

In April 2001, shortly before rendition began, Jeppesen's Paul Dowling said it was of "no great surprise that the airport met all of our required standards to a high level", after auditing its operational and security facilities.

The then marketing manager for the airport Julie Black said: "Jeppesen route a significant number of corporate aircraft through our facility and hopefully this visit will signal an even closer working partnership in the future."

Speaking to the Bromley Times on Tuesday, airport director Peter Lonergan said he was 'pleased' to receive Jeppesen flights but denied any CIA planes landing at Biggin Hill in 2002.

When asked if he would still take Jeppesen aircraft if it was proved to have been an active participant in Mr Mohamed's rendition, he said: "We would have to see where we are in the market place. At this time I see no reason why I shouldn't accept flights planned by Jeppesen."

He refused to comment when asked if he thought that was morally acceptable but added: "No aeroplanes have ever landed here which were involved in anything like that [rendition]. I stand by that. I don't even know who Reprieve are and I don't have any other comments to make on this subject. Our conversation has ended thank you."

A spokesperson for Jeppesen said: "We are not able to comment on the matter as it continues to be the subject of litigation."

On Monday (July 28) Reprieve announced Pakistani Iqbal Madni would be suing the government after he was rendered to Egypt, where he claims to have suffered 92 days of torture including severe electric shocks, before being sent to Guantanamo Bay where he was held for six years.

After no proof of wrongdoing was ever shown against him, he was released last year without charge.

Reprieve said he had "been seriously disabled both physically and mentally by his years in abusive captivity".

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