For Immediate Release
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Renewed Concerns that UK 'Lobbied' US on CIA Torture Report
WASHINGTON - Senior British ministers had several meetings in the past year with a Senate Security and Intelligence Committee member who was vocally opposed to the publication of the CIA torture report, it’s emerged.
Documents obtained by human rights organization Reprieve have revealed that in the 12 months prior to the Senate report’s release, senior members of the British government had five previously undisclosed meetings with Senator Marco Rubio, who had publicly stated his opposition to the report's publication.
The revelation follows a UK admission last December that several senior government officials, including Home Secretary Theresa May, had met with the Senate committee 24 times during the four years the report was being prepared.The timing and number of the UK meetings has raised concerns that Britain may have attempted to influence the report’s contents, in order to cover-up evidence that it had been involved in CIA rendition and torture operations.
The SSCI began its formal inquiry into the CIA torture programme in 2009, and its report – published in December – makes no direct reference to the UK's involvement. Last year, Downing Street conceded that redactions had been requested by the UK on “national security grounds”, in an apparent shift from an earlier claim by the Prime Minister’s spokesman that there had been no such UK requests.
Earlier this year, Britain’s Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) claimed that allegations of an attempted cover-up were “unfounded”, but conceded that it had only been able to consider “limited” evidence.
Commenting, Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “When these troubling issues were first raised, FOI requests showed that a large number of diplomatic meetings had taken place, and this in turn led to serious concerns that the government had been seeking to influence the decision to publish the torture report. Ministers strenuously denied this at the time - but it’s now clear that far more meetings took place than were initially disclosed, with a committee member who was avowedly anti-publication of the report. The British government has already had to correct its position on this several times – there can be no more room for obfuscation. This latest revelation shows yet again that the only way to deal with Britain’s involvement in the terrible abuses of the ‘War on Terror’ is through a proper, independent inquiry.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.