LONDON (AP) – Britain’s government acknowledged Thursday that two terror suspects captured by U.K. troops in Iraq were later transferred by the United States to Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary John Hutton’s admission contrasts with previous government assurances that there were no cases besides two that had been disclosed earlier.
It is certain to spark outrage from human rights groups and lawmakers who have demanded that the government give a full disclosure of what it knows about the transfer of foreign terror suspects to third countries without court approval.
Hutton told lawmakers in Britain’s House of Commons that the cases related to a security operation in February 2004, when two individuals were captured by U.K. forces in Iraq, transferred to U.S. detention and later moved to a U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan.
“I regret that it is now clear that inaccurate information on this particular issue has been given to the House by my department,” Hutton told lawmakers. “I must stress that this was based on the information available to ministers and those who were briefing them at the time.” He apologized for the error.
Hutton says the two are still being held in Afghanistan and the U.S. has given assurances that they are held “in a humane, safe and secure environment.”
Human rights groups and some lawmakers have in the past demanded a government inquiry into the transfer of prisoners. But in the past the questions have surrounded the use of the remote British outpost of Diego Garcia to detain and interrogate terrorism suspects.
In an embarrassing reversal last year, Britain was forced to admit that the Indian Ocean island had twice been used by the United States as a refueling stop for the secret transfer of terrorism suspects.
The United States initially denied using the island for extraordinary rendition flights. However, it later acknowledged that it had misled the British government.
Miliband later released a statement declaring that the United States had studied a list of 391 flights compiled by British human rights groups and lawmakers and that no other cases had been found.