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Demand for probe into CIA 'torture flights'
Chief constables of 11 police forces have
been asked to investigate allegations the US is
using UK airports to send terror suspects to countries that carry out torture.
Liberty, the human rights group, called yesterday for urgent inquiries into the alleged CIA "torture flights".
It also demanded that Jack Straw, foreign secretary, seek diplomatic assurances from Washington that flights landing or refuelling in the UK were not taking detainees to secret jails in eastern Europe where they were likely to be tortured.
The group said it would seek a judicial review if the government and police failed to act within 14 days.
Liberty says the government could be in breach of domestic and international law by allowing CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights at UK airports.
The Foreign Office said: "We are not aware of the use of UK territory or airspace for the purpose of extraordinary rendition, nor have we received any requests, nor granted any permission for the use of UK territory or airspace for such purposes."
It added, however, that carriers stopping to refuel were not obliged to produce full passenger lists.
Mr Straw has written to Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, on behalf of the European Union, of which the UK holds the presidency, seeking clarification over "media allegations" of CIA jails in eastern Europe.
Rendition flights are reported to have used airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Northolt, Biggin Hill, Brize Norton and Farnborough. The Guardian said that the aircraft had flown into the UK at least 210 times since September 2001.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "It is troubling that our government chases Algeria for anti-torture assurances but cowers from confronting the USA on the same issue." Liberty added: "We are asking for the chief constables to investigate these allegations because no one has done so."
It has written to the chief constables of Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Dorset, Essex, Hampshire, the Metropolitan police, Ministry of Defence police, Suffolk, Sussex, Thames Valley and West Midlands.
The European and United Nations human rights conventions make it illegal for countries to be complicit in torture. The 1988 Criminal Justice Act also makes torture a criminal offence wherever it is committed.
Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, told the BBC: "We need full disclosure by the government. If people are being moved from a jurisdiction where torture is illegal to a jurisdiction where torture is permissible, that seems to be wholly contrary to international law. If we are allowing facilities for aircraft carrying out those actions, then we are at the very least facilitating it. We may even be complicit in it."
The US has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of secret jails in eastern Europe.
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