Dr Ruth Blakeley’s research provided detailed evidence of a global system of rendition (illegal prisoner transfers), secret detention and torture. Working with Sam Raphael from Kingston University and Reprieve, a legal action charity, the Rendition Project collated a huge amount of open-source data.
This was used to piece together a picture of an international network of secret prisons and torture, initiated by the US Bush administration as part of its ‘war on terror’. It highlighted the possible involvement of many countries across the world, including the UK. In particular, the project’s research revealed that suspicious flights, by aircraft linked to rendition operations, landed in and took off from Scottish airports. Dr Blakeley was able to bring this evidence to the media’s attention, and the international coverage led to a debate in the Scottish Parliament on the use of Scottish airports for rendition, as well as a Scottish police inquiry, which is ongoing.
The Guardian described the Rendition Project as one that ‘sheds unprecedented light on one of the most controversial secret operations of recent years’. The project work – and its open access website – has influenced and informed human rights campaigners, lawyers, journalists and the wider public.
Dr Ruth Blakeley is Reader in International Relations in the School of Politics and International Relations.
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