British lawmakers will probe allegations that the UK government has been allowing the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to bring terrorist suspects through London-area airports in business jets. They are concerned about reports that the agency has been flying suspects to countries where they will face torture, in breach of both United Nations conventions and Britain’s own Criminal Justice Act.
According to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, U.S. government aircraft and business jets chartered by the CIA to carry terrorist suspects have made more than 200 stops at British airports in the past four years. The flights are allegedly part of the CIA’s so-called “extraordinary rendition” policy, under which suspects apprehended unofficially by U.S. agents are flown to countries where they are believed to be wanted.
The UK Foreign Office has denied any knowledge that Britain has been a staging post. However, The Guardian claims to have seen FAA records detailing transit stops at business aviation airports such as Biggin Hill, Farnborough, Luton and Northolt.
Some UK lawmakers are investigating that country’s role in these operations, noting that by supporting CIA activities outside the judicial process, the government could be undermining its policy of not surrendering suspects to countries that torture and execute.