UK must end cover-up of Diego Garcia interrogations

The UK authorities must respond urgently to a statement today by a former Bush Administration staffer that interrogations of CIA detainees took place on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Amnesty International said.

Lawrence Wilkerson the Chief of Staff to the former US Secretary of State Colin Powell told Vice News that after leaving office in 2005, intelligence sources had informed him that Diego Garcia had been used as a site “where people were temporarily housed and interrogated from time to time.”

“The UK has consistently evaded the question of Diego Garcia. This new information must finally trigger a truthful response from the UK authorities. Was Diego Garcia used for detention and interrogation by the USA? And if so, who will be held to account for those patently illegal practices?,” said Julia Hall, Amnesty International’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights.

“Apparently the UK successfully lobbied the US Senate so its recently released torture report would remain silent on the issue of Diego Garcia. The new revelations by Wilkerson unequivocally identify Diego Garcia as a transit site used for interrogation. The UK must respond to this new information as a matter of urgency. There should be no more cover-ups.”

It has been reported that the UK had desperately lobbied for the US Senate report to be cleaned of any references that might lead back to the UK.

Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that the UK is investigating allegations that its agents were involved in the torture and ill-treatment of foreign detainees overseas, often in collusion with the USA, but this claim does not stand up to scrutiny.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have argued that the current inquiry by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee is not independent and will be undermined by the fact that the government has absolute discretion to withhold information based on national security considerations.

On 20 January, Amnesty International published a report looking at the complicity of European governments with the CIA’s secret detention, interrogation, and torture operations as part of the USA’s global “war on terror”.