Mr MacAskill said:
"I invite organisations such as Amnesty International, Liberty and others to bring forward their concerns to us and we shall proceed from there.
"The Scottish government opposes illegal rendition flights, but of course the appropriate authorities can only act on the basis of evidence."
Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini said:
"I take allegations regarding offences of attempting or conspiring to commit torture being committed in Scotland or Scottish airspace seriously. Civil aviation is a reserved matter and so is the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government but attempts to commit or to conspire to commit torture are crimes under Scots law and it is for the police to investigate allegations of such offences and for the procurator fiscal to decide whether to bring proceedings.
"If any individual or organisation has evidence, including new evidence, of criminal offences being committed within Scottish jurisdiction, I would encourage them to make it available." (Scottish Executive)
The offer comes after the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) announced that it had found no evidence to justify an inquiry into claims that the UK had provided logistical support for rendition flights:
Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti issued the following response:
18 months ago, Liberty wrote to the police expressing concerns based
upon credible investigations, that Britain may have been used as a
staging post for the CIA’s programme of “extraordinary rendition”. We
asked for a police investigation. Today Senator Dick Marty issued the
Council of Europe’s official report finding European collusion with
extraordinary rendition and blanket “overflight clearances” for US
military flights. Coincidentally, Liberty today received a written
response from Chief Constable Michael Todd on behalf of ACPO refusing
to commence any police enquiry into the allegations. An ACPO public
statement claims no evidence has been found. When politicians spin, it
is disappointing. When the police engage in such activity, it is rather
more dangerous.” (Liberty)
The Council of Europe report includes an appendix containing the map reproduced above, which claims that rendition flights stopped off at Glasgow Prestwick Airport on their way back to the United States after transporting detainees from Afghanistan to Poland. Amnesty International has previously claimed that flights returning from Jordan and Egypt used Prestwick in the same way.
In the wake of the Scottish Executive offer, Labour MSP Lord Foulkes has said the issue is already being investigated the Prime Ministers’s Intelligence and Security Committee, of which he is a member.
Lord Foulkes, who has criticised Mr Salmond in the row over an
alleged deal struck between Britain and Libya over prisoner exchange,
said: "I phoned Mr Salmond’s office this morning so there is no doubt
"There already is an inquiry being conducted by the intelligence and security committee.
"It will cover Scotland as well, and I think it’s important that the
Scottish Executive knows that before it decided whether a further
inquiry is necessary." (Scotsman)
In other words, there’s no need to worry because a secret committee appointed by the Prime Minister is already investigating the issue. Frankly, that little gambit just suggests the Government has something to hide.