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British Politicians Can’t Access Rendition Papers

WASHINGTON (CN) - Members of British Parliament and their American attorney have no claim to documents on the U.S. government's extraordinary rendition program, federal judge ruled.

American intelligence agencies can withhold intelligence matters from foreign government entities under an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina on Monday rejected an attempt by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Extraordinary Rendition (APPG) to claim that it is not a foreign government entity.

"Because the court concludes that the plaintiffs are representatives or subdivisions of a foreign government entity, the court grants the defendants' motion and denies the plaintiffs' motion," Urbina wrote.

Elected Parliament member Andrew Tyrie acts of chair of the APPG, which includes more than 60 members of Parliament.

The group wanted records to determine the United Kingdom's role in assisting the United States by "facilitating such practices, including allowing over-flight or refueling of planes through or on UK territory or airspace, or by allowing UK territories to be used to hold detainees."

In its 2009 complaint, the group said that the U.K. Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced he had received information from the U.S. government hinting that the Britain's Diego Garcia territory may have been used for extraordinary renditions.

It also identified a former member of a U.K. Special Forces unit who said detainees were turned over "to face mistreatment at the hands of the United States."

Judge Urbina rejected the group's argument that its members acted as individuals and not public officials. By that logic any foreign leader, including the late Kim Jong Il, could submit FOIA requests under their individually capacity, the decision states.

"It would be particularly inappropriate for the court to adopt the plaintiffs' suggestion because their proposed exception would, without doubt, swallow the rule," Urbina wrote.

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