News24

UK admits part in rendition

2009-02-26 22:15

London - Britain's defence minister made an unusual public apology on Thursday, admitting that Britain had taken part in the "rendition" of suspects held in Iraq when it had previously always denied doing so.

In a lengthy statement to Parliament, Defence Secretary John Hutton confirmed that Britain handed two suspects captured in Iraq in 2004 to US custody and that they were subsequently transferred to Afghanistan, breaching US-British agreements.

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly been asked over the past five years about its involvement in rendition - the transfer of suspects captured or held in Iraq and Afghanistan - and consistently denied that it has played any role.

"I regret that it is now clear that inaccurate information on this particular issue has been given to the House by my department on a small number of occasions," Hutton said.

"I want to apologise to the House for these errors."

The case relates to two men seized by British troops in southern Iraq in February 2004.

They were transferred to US detention and later flown to Afghanistan, where they remain in US custody.

Both are said to be members of Laskhar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based group with links to al-Qaeda.

The US has provided assurances that the suspects are being properly treated, Hutton said.