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Thursday 23 November 2017

Amnesty in fresh demand for 'torture' flight inspections

Grainne Cunningham

There were fresh demands yesterday that the Government inspect US aircraft refueling at Shannon after an Amnesty International report claimed the airport has been used for so-called "rendition" flights by the CIA.

The human rights organisation said it has obtained flight records proving a jet operated by the US intelligence agency refuelled at the Co Clare airport in January 2004.

The plane was used to transport a man kidnapped in Baghdad and then flown to a secret interrogation centre in Kabul before being moved to Guantanamo Bay.

Amnesty's Irish branch said the evidence was unquestionable and it was no longer tenable for the Government to accept US assurances that Shannon has not been used for illegal activity.

In its report, Amnesty details exclusive interviews with Khaled al-Maqtari, who was subjected to prolonged physical and psychological torture over two and a half years.

Colm O'Gorman, executive director at Amnesty International's Irish Section, said: "For over two and a half years, Khaled al-Maqtari was held in unknown locations and in complete isolation, without charge or trial or access to any form of due process. His statements include numerous allegations of torture.


"It is particularly shocking that Shannon Airport was used as a refuelling stop by the plane that took him from Baghdad, where he was initially arrested, to Kabul where he was incarcerated in a CIA 'black site' prison.

"There can no longer be any doubt that Shannon is being used by those involved in kidnapping and torture, dressed up as part of a war on terror.

"Ireland's core values of respect for human rights is put at risk by our continued failure to ensure that we are not complicit in these crimes."

Labour Party Leader Eamon Gilmore said the Amnesty report reinforced the case for the Irish authorities insisting on the right to inspect aircraft suspected of being involved in extraordinary rendition.

"The failure to assert our right to check these planes leaves Ireland potentially complicit in the kidnap, detention and torture of people against whom no charges have been proven," he said.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said the Government was totally opposed to the practice of extraordinary rendition and has reiterated its position on numerous occasions.

However, in June 2006, Mr Ahern was forced to admit the US military had violated Irish law by transporting a convicted US marine through Shannon without government permission.

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