Scotland’s top prosecutor has refused to say whether police have contacted Joe Biden’s administration to ask for the truth about CIA torture flights.
Lord Advocate James Wolffe said it would “not be appropriate” for him to comment on such a move because an investigation remained ongoing and under his direction.
Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart had written to the chief legal officer amid hopes that Donald Trump’s defeat could offer a breakthrough in a probe that was launched by the police in 2013.
Detectives have been investigating whether locations such as Aberdeen, Inverness and Wick were used as stop-offs for the illegal transfer of suspects to interrogation sites during the War on Terror that followed the September 11 attacks in 2001.
A previous request by police for an unredacted copy of a vital but secret US Senate committee report on CIA torture was denied by the American authorities.
Mr Wolffe has suggested the case would remain open until appropriate evidence had been obtained from the US.
The lord advocate has now responded to Mr Stewart’s request that a fresh attempt be made to secure the Senate document, in the wake of Mr Biden’s victory in the US presidential election.
‘It would not be appropriate’
Mr Wolffe said: “You asked if I would contact the new US Government administration to ask for an unredacted copy of the US Senate Committee on Intelligence Report on Rendition Detention and Interrogation.
“I can advise that the investigation by Police Service of Scotland, under my direction, remains ongoing.
“It therefore would not be appropriate for me to comment upon that investigation or to confirm what evidence has been sought or obtained.”
Mr Wolffe also highlighted that the original decision to keep the report secret was taken by President Obama’s administration, not that of Mr Trump.
‘The fight for the truth’
However, Mr Stewart said: “With Joe Biden now in the White House we have a real chance to persuade the US authorities to publish the uncensored report so we can get to the truth of this very important issue.
“Whether our airports were used illegally by aircraft carrying out extraordinary rendition is of the utmost importance and we simply cannot give up the fight for the truth – it’s been a number of years now but, with a new president, we must do all we can to uncover the facts.”
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Specialist officers from Police Scotland’s Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit are gathering all the information made available to them, and the material is being considered by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”
Detectives launched their inquiry in June 2013, just days after we revealed that CIA planes were likely to have used Aberdeen, Inverness and Wick airports as stop-offs during the operations.
British academics Ruth Blakeley and Sam Raphael, directors of The Rendition Project, had found “conclusive” proof that five CIA planes linked to rendition had landed at both Inverness and Wick, with a further three at Aberdeen International Airport.
Suspicious flights were also linked to other Scottish airports.