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Details of the CIA’s secret rendition flights have been revealed in a courthouse in upstate New York. The case has shed light on the fact that suspected terrorists were secretively airlifted by CIA operatives using airports across Europe and Asia.
The findings have outraged human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International and Reprieve. Reprieve’s legal director, Cori Crider, said “This new evidence tells a chilling story, from the CIA’s efforts to disguise its illegal activities to the price it paid to ferry prisoners to torture chambers across the world”
The CIA captured and rendered over 100 terrorism suspects to other countries, including Guantanamo Bay’s currently most dangerous prisoners. According to the Washington Post, the CIA paid tens of millions of dollars to use private planes in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks to transport detainees along with its own personnel.
The private jets sometimes landed numerous times on the same mission, and it has been proven that in at least one case a single flight cost the US government $300,000. Records from the recent court case include flight itineraries coordinated with the arrest of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, a high-value detainee associated with planning 9/11.
The Guardian reported that flight prisoners “were usually sedated through anal suppositories before being dressed in nappies and orange boiler suits, then hooded and muffled and trussed up in the back of the aircraft.”
In 2002 DynCorp (a United States-based private military company and aircraft maintenance company) hired Sportsflight with the alleged intention of picking up detainees from anywhere in the world and flying them to countries to be tortured into confessing to crimes they have committed. Sportsflight hired Richmor Aviation with the understanding that Richmor Aviation would be able to provide a crew ready with only 12 hours’ notice.
Court files show that Richmor Aviation and SportsFlight have been engaged in a legal battle over the flight costs for over four years. Documents filed in a New York appeals court give a detailed report of over 50 rendition flights to locations, such as Bucharest, Romania; Cairo; Djibouti; Baku, Azerbaijan; Islamabad, Pakistan; and Tripoli, Libya.
Several European nations have been accused of consciously allowing CIA flights, carrying detained prisoners, to use their airports on their way to other countries. The accusations derived from the Council of Europe’s 2007 report, which revealed that over 1,000 flights operated by the CIA passed over the continent, including Shannon, Ireland.
Anti-war group Shannonwatch, claims it has evidence of 20 suspected rendition flights using Shannon over an eight-year period. Human rights organisations have recently called on the Irish Government to introduce measures to ensure Irish airports will no longer be used for rendition flights. The request was made after new evidence emerged that US authorities operated illegal missions through Shannon Airport over the past decade.
Abdul Hakim Belha, a Libyan rebel leader, stated he told British intelligence officers he was being tortured, but they failed to intervene or help in any way. He claims the MI6 was aware of the CIA’s torture practices. Belhaj was detained by the CIA in 2004 in Thailand following a tipoff, allegedly tortured, then flown to Tripoli, where he proclaims he endured years of abuse in one of Muammar Gaddafi’s prisons.
Richmor Aviation’s attorney publicly declared that the company president had been aware the planes mission since shortly after the flights began. The CIA are refusing to comment on the topic and have previously told the BBC “The programme is over. This agency does not discuss publicly where detention facilities may or may not have been.”