A secret American flight sent to capture Edward Snowden flew over Scotland in a last gasp effort to intercept him, it was claimed today.
Former First Minister Alex Salmond is among critics who today demanded answers about the flight, said to have crossed Britain as Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow three years ago.
The NSA spy, considered a traitor by the United States, was one of the world’s most wanted men at the time.
After an arrest warrant was issued by the CIA a jet used by America for rendition flights was sent to Europe on June 24 as part of a plot to intercept Snowden as he crossed the world.
Scottish investigative journalist Duncan Campbell says that the jet crossed Scotland via the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire at 45,000 feet with no set destination.
The 20-seater plane, N977GA, allegedly stopped in Copenhagen where the Danes were asked to use America’s Espionage Act to arrest Snowden if he arrived there, according toThe National.
At the time it was believed Snowden may be about to fly on from Moscow to South America to avoid extradition.
The same plane was used a year earlier to fly hate preacher Abu Hamza to America from Britain for a terror trial.
Alex Salmond, now the SNP foreign affairs spokesman who was First Minister at the time, said: ‘Any country, particularly an ally, should be open about the purposes of a flight and the use of foreign airspace or indeed airports.
‘What we need to know now is, was this information given to the U.K. government at the time. If so, then why did they give permission? If not, then why not?’
Green MSP for Glasgow Patrick Harvie added: ‘It will certainly raise suspicions that an aircraft previously identified as involved in rendition flew through UK airspace at that time.
‘We have a right to know what U.K. and Scottish authorities knew about this flight given it is implicated in the U.S. response to whistleblowing about global surveillance’.
Edward Snowden became one of the world’s most wanted men in 2013 when he stole classified documents from the U.S. National Security Agency.
Snowden, who was a computer specialist at an intelligence centre in Hawaii, tricked colleagues into handing over passwords so he could copy up to 1.7million documents in one of the biggest leaks in US history.
He also leaked details of attempts by state spy agencies – including Britain’s GCHQ – to view citizens’ private information.
Today the Government declined to comment and the Scottish Government said it could not comment for legal reasons.
A spokesman said: ‘There is already an ongoing Police Scotland investigation, directed by the Lord Advocate.
This investigation will seek to gather all available evidence of rendition flights using Scottish airports.
As this is a live investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further’.
America does carry out the rendition of terror suspects, so they can be interrogated in other countries with less stringent human rights regulations.
In 2014 it emerged that secret Foreign Office files detailing CIA rendition flights on UK territory were accidentally destroyed.
Mark Simmonds claimed that documents about US prisoners flown in and out of the British island of Diego Garcia had been ‘water damaged’.
He said officials had recently noticed the damage to the logs, which he said was caused by a roof leak during heavy weather.
Documents uncovered after the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 suggest the US sought to use Diego Garcia as a stopover during the 2004 rendition of Abdel Hakim Belhadj, a leading Gaddafi opponent, and his pregnant wife.
Mr Simmonds said officials had recently noticed the damage to the logs, which he said was caused by a roof leak during heavy weather.
David Miliband, then foreign secretary, admitted the island had been used twice for re-fuelling of rendition flights in 2002, during the months after the 9/11 terror attacks.