WikiLeaks: the latest developments | World news | guardian.co.uk
A senior Irish civil servant warned the US embassy in Dublin that Irish government lawyers might be forced to conclude that Ireland was in violation of torture conventions if aircraft were found to have used Shannon airport for rendition flights involving terrorist suspects, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The 2004 cable was sent as the Irish government was beginning to come under particularly intense pressure over the appearance at Shannon of a Gulfstream jet allegedly used to transport prisoners which allegedly had its tail number changed. The senior civil servant told the diplomats some Irish ministers felt they were “going out on a limb defending US use of Shannon”.
There have been a series of WikiLeaks releases on Shannon. In a 2007 cable (published last month) the then Irish foreign minister, Dermot Ahern, was described as “convinced” during a meeting with US diplomats that at least three flights involved in renditions had refuelled at the airport.
The allegations surrounding the jet referred to in the 2004 cable had “raised suspicions and caused confusion” with the Irish government, according to the senior civil servant.
He cautioned that if it were ever to be discovered that the US was not good on its word or had transported prisoners through Shannon in the context of the war on terrorism, there would be enormous political pressure on the government.
As for the legal issue, he said that were a plane to include Shannon in an itinerary that also included transporting prisoners, GOI [government of Ireland] lawyers might be forced to conclude that the GOI itself was in violation of torture conventions
The cable stated that the Jonathan S Benton, deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Dublin, told the senior civil servant: “that the USG [US government] would be in no position to respond to the detailed questions asked about particular planes, such as the Gulfstream jet, but stood by its commitment to abide by Irish law, consult with the Irish and avoid actions that would bring embarrassment to the Irish government.”