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British foreign secretary says 2 rendition flights landed at Diego Garcia
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    LONDON — A British territory was used in the secret transfer of terrorism suspects in 2002, Foreign Secretary David Miliband said in an awkward admission Thursday that came after U.S. officials disclosed records of two cases involving detainees.
    The disclosure stands to be a further embarrassment to Britain — long criticized for its close alliance with the United States in the war in Iraq and of its complicity in rights abuses during the so-called war on terror.
    Britain had repeatedly said it had no evidence it was involved in renditions, but Miliband said recent private talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice revealed cases of two terror suspects who were flown to the British Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, a U.S.-run military base.
    ‘‘An error in the earlier U.S. records search meant that these cases did not come to light,’’ Miliband told the House of Commons.
    The stops were reportedly for refueling and detainees never left the plane, he said.
    Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he ‘‘shared the disappointment that everybody has’’ about the stops.
    ‘‘The important thing now is we put in place the best possible procedures to ensure that this will not happen again,’’ said Brown, speaking in Brussels, Belgium.
    Washington disclosed that two flights — one bound for the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and one bound for Morocco, stopped over at Diego Garcia, which Britain leased to the Americans in the 1960s. U.S. officials have maintained that no terror suspects have ever been held on the base but access is highly restricted.
    CIA Director Michael Hayden told agency employees in a message Thursday that information previously provided to the British ‘‘turned out to be wrong.’’
    Gordon Johndroe, National Security Council spokesman for President Bush, said the incident was ‘‘unfortunate’’ but will not damage U.S.-British cooperation.
    ‘‘Mistakes were made in the reporting of the information,’’ he said. ‘‘But we will continue to have a good counterterrorism cooperation between the United States and United Kingdom.’’
    Last March, ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair said there had been no cases of extraordinary rendition involving Britain.
    Miliband said Thursday that in the two cases, a plane with a single detainee stopped to refuel at a U.S. base on Diego Garcia.
    ‘‘U.S. investigations show no record of any other rendition through Diego Garcia or any other overseas territory, or through the U.K. itself since then,’’ he said.
    He said Foreign Office officials are compiling a list of flights that activists believe were used in extraordinary renditions.
    ‘‘We will be sending this list to the U.S. and seeking their specific assurance that none of these flights were used to rendition purposes,’’ Miliband said.
    Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, a panel of lawmakers that meets in private to scrutinize intelligence work, last year investigated Britain’s role in rendition.
    Though it found no evidence of British complicity in extraordinary rendition, it strongly criticized the government over poor record keeping, saying officials had been unable to quickly search for evidence of rendition requests.
    Despite the admission, Britain is unlikely to be penalized by its fellow European Union nations for allowing the U.S. to carry out extraordinary renditions on its soil — a practice banned under EU human rights rules.
    ‘‘I don’t expect any punishment for that,’’ European Commission spokesman Friso Roscam Abbing told the Associated Press. ‘‘It does not look like this practice is still ongoing.’’
    European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told journalists the EU executive had asked all EU member states to investigate reports of extraordinary renditions on their soil.
    Britain has been among 14 countries accused by the European Parliament and the Council of Europe of colluding with the CIA to transport terror suspects to clandestine prisons in third countries.
    A parliamentary report has identified at least 1,254 secret CIA flights that entered European airspace after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States.
    In a report, it said the flights violated international air traffic rules, and suggested that some may have carried terror suspects on board in violation of human rights.
    Associated Press writers David Stringer contributed to this report from London and Jan Sliva from Brussels, Belgium.

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