Establishing a clearer understanding of which aircraft were involved in the RDI programme, and a more comprehensive set of data regarding the movements of these aircraft between 2001 and 2006, has been an important investigative step: it has enabled a more complete picture to emerge of how secret prisons in Europe were connected to other prisons in the system during this time, and when prisoner transfer operations into and out of Europe may have taken place. The database now contains 23 circuits by 15 separate rendition aircraft which link the European black sites to each other, and to the wider network. For full details of each of these circuits, see Appendix A
It is worth noting that the database documents many more flights into or out of Poland (60), Romania (303) and Lithuania (21). The 23 highlighted circuits are a subset of these flights: they were undertaken by aircraft firmly established by past investigations, and by our analysis of the contracting paperwork, as operating within the RDI programme; there is data which confirms, in these specific cases, direct flights between European black sites and other secret prison destinations; and the documented circuits took place during the period that the sites are thought to have been operational. It remains possible (indeed, likely) that there are other relevant circuits in the database, but that gaps in the data or our knowledge of the aircraft involved lead us at this stage to discount them from our findings. Further, it is almost certain that other rendition aircraft remain unidentified, and some of these may have been used to connect the European black sites.
Although some of the circuits were identified by earlier investigations – especially flights connecting Poland during 2003 – our analysis of the contracting documents, FOI releases and new Eurocontrol data has led directly to numerous discoveries. In fact, of the 23 circuits in the database connecting European black sites, 11 are new discoveries, comprising 14 separate flights: four of the nine flights into Romania; six of the seven flights out of Romania; and all four circuits connecting Lithuania to the wider secret prison network. In the case of four further circuits, some details were known prior to our work, but our findings have revealed important additional facts. For each of these 15 cases, our contracting data definitively ties the circuits to the same corporate network as numerous other rendition circuits, and the itineraries in each case clearly link secret prison locations.
This more complete picture of CIA rendition flights into and out of European black sites helps to develop broader understandings of the evolution of the RDI programme, and the significance of each site within it. CIA prisons in Europe did not exist in isolation from one another, nor in isolation from the broader, global network of prisons. Key rendition circuits indicate that prisoners were often moved between sites in Europe, or into, out of, and then back into Europe on flights connecting these sites to other secret prisons in Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa and Guantánamo Bay. Flight data confirm and clarify other sources which suggest that the global network of black sites was not static: individual prisons were not all operational at the same time, but appear to have been used in rotation, with prisoners often moved between them in groups. In this context, flight data can be used to identify key moments where particular secret prisons were closed and their prisoners moved to another site.
The database confirms that the Polish black site was first connected to the wider network of secret prisons in December 2002, with a rendition flight landing at Szymany from the CIA’s first official detention site, in Bangkok, Thailand.52
Eurocontrol data analysed by the PACE investigation had already identified a landing at Szymany in December 2002 by the aircraft with registration number N63MU as suspicious, given that it had filed a false flight plan from Dubai to Vienna to mask the landing at the Polish airport.53
It was not until 2010, however, that the full itinerary of the aircraft was revealed, including the landing in Bangkok (and thus the connection between the two black sites).54
The DynCorp/CSC documents gathered and analysed by our team – including invoices, billing information and contracts for the circuit – confirm the details of the route flown, as well as the fact that N63MU undertook this mission for DynCorp, on behalf of the US government, and that contractual arrangements for this mission were related to those for other identified rendition missions.55
Further flights into and out of Poland during 2003, all sharing the characteristics of rendition operations, connect Stare Kiejkuty with detention locations in Morocco and Afghanistan, as prisoners were rendered between them (see Appendix A
for full details). Several sources suggest that the Polish site was then closed in September 2003, with remaining prisoners moved to other secret prisons in the network. According to some CIA sources, speaking off the record, this reshuffling (as well as others) was carried out to avoid the exposure that was likely if one location was maintained for too long.56
The database confirms a key circuit matching these claims: between 20 and 25 September 2003, the aircraft N313P flew from Kabul to Szymany, then on to Bucharest, Rabat and Guantánamo Bay, in what some in the CIA have labelled, scathingly, a ‘five-card straight revealing the program to outsiders: five stops, five secret facilities, all documented’.57
Other characteristics, including the filing of false flight plans and the use of STS designators, offered further indicators that this was a prisoner transfer circuit.58
The closure of the site at Stare Kiejkuty appears to have been timed alongside the opening of the black site in Romania, situated in Bucharest.59
The September 2003 circuit linking Kabul and Szymany to Bucharest is the first indication in the database of Romania being linked to other prison locations by a plane known to have been involved in the RDI programme. After this date, however, we are now able to identify eight other circuits which appear to involve prisoner transfers into Romania throughout 2004 and 2005 from other secret prisons in the network, including the black site at Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. The database also contains other circuits during this time which appear to be prisoner transfer flights out of
Romania and to these other sites (see Appendix A
for full details).
As it became clear to the CIA that the existence of its detention site in Romania was about to be exposed, it appears that the prison was swiftly closed. The database identifies four possible prisoner transfers out of Romania throughout 2005, to secret prison locations in Lithuania, Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan.60
Prisoners held in Romania during that time were likely to have been moved on board one of these flights, the last of which corresponds with the first public revelations of the CIA prison in the country.
Our findings have also been able to offer, for the first time, an account of prisoner movements through Lithuania. Initial research by ABC News
suggested that prisoners were transferred there from Afghanistan in September 2004 and July 2005.61
However, no independent data has yet been able to confirm these, and the planes in question were not recorded by the CNSD inquiry.62
In contrast, there is now documentary evidence of three flights by newly identified rendition aircraft into Lithuania during 2005, which were recorded by the CNSD inquiry, although their full circuits (essential for understanding their purpose) were not ascertained at that time. Two of these circuits took place concurrently, in February 2005, and linked several black site locations in what appears to be a reshuffling of prisoners. The third, in October 2005, came from Romania as that site was being closed. And although some early reports suggested that the Lithuanian prison was closed in late 2005,63
flight data indicate that prisoners were held at the site until March 2006. At this point, prisoners were likely to have been moved to Egypt or Afghanistan, on board the one rendition circuit out of the country identified thus far.
As well as establishing the existence of new flights connecting secret prison locations, our flight data contain numerous additional details indicating the continued effort on behalf of the authorities to conceal the operation of black sites and the flights connecting them. The filing of false flight plans, a technique uncovered by the PACE investigation, can also be observed in circuits undertaken by aircraft newly identified as connected to the RDI programme. The 18 February 2005 flight by N787WH from Romania to Lithuania, for example, was disguised by the filing of a flight plan from Bucharest to Gothenburg, Sweden. The true destination of the flight – Palanga, Lithuania – was identified by the CNSD investigation, and is confirmed by an invoice from Palanga airport authorities and by contracting paperwork.64
Flight recording and customs inspection protocols were also modified in several of these cases, in order to ensure that knowledge of, and interference with, the landings at black site destinations were kept to a minimum. The CNSD investigation found that on at least three occasions where aircraft landed in Lithuania – each of which we now know had come from other black sites, and were likely to be carrying prisoners – the SSD took over handling duties from the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) to ensure ‘the provision of assistance to an intelligence service in getting unrestricted access to aircraft and access to/departure from the territory of the airport’. The SBGS testified to the CNSD that its officers were prevented from inspecting these aircraft, and that no customs inspections were carried out.65
Our flight data analysis has also identified a significant diversionary tactic employed by the CIA and its contractors: the use of two aircraft to link two prison sites, meeting for a cargo-switch on the runway of a third country. Thus, one aircraft would fly from black site destination A to a third-country runway, where it would meet a second aircraft which had not visited anywhere suspicious. Both aircraft would be on the ground together for less than an hour – likely while prisoners were transferred between the aircraft – before the first aircraft left for home and the second aircraft flew its cargo to black site destination B. As a result, flight records document no one flight linking the black sites, making it far more difficult to identify potential rendition operations. Four such ‘combined circuits’ have been identified as a result of our analysis, connecting prison sites in Romania, Lithuania and Afghanistan between May 2005 and March 2006 (see Appendix A
for full details).
Analysis of flight data and associated documentation relevant to these combined circuits establishes that, in some cases, multiple tactics were used simultaneously to disguise the true route of the aircraft. The March 2006 combined circuit between Lithuania and Afghanistan is representative of this.66
A Boeing 737 aircraft with registration N733MA, operated by Victory Air Transport pursuant to the prime contract, had filed a plan for a flight from Portugal to Finland on 25 March 2006, but had actually flown to Lithuania. As the CNSD investigation found, the aircraft landed in Lithuania that evening and left 90 minutes later. However, rather than returning to Portugal, as recorded by Lithuanian authorities, other records retrieved from both Eurocontrol and the Polish authorities demonstrate it in fact flew to Egypt, where it was on the runway in the early hours of 26 March. Other data show that another Boeing 737 aircraft, with registration N740EH and operated by Miami Air International also pursuant to the prime contract, was at Cairo airport on the same night, and the two were on the ground at the same time for about 30 minutes. N740EH then took off, presumably with prisoners now on board, and flew direct to Afghanistan. As well as disguising the true routes through filing false information, the accompanying contracting paperwork also attempts to keep the exact landing details secret, by replacing the correct airport codes with the anonymised codes TTT, WWW, XXX and ZZZ.
Overall, our work since 2010 – building on the important advances made before this date – has enabled a clearer understanding of how each of the European black sites were connected to one another, and to others in the global network. As a result of recent analysis of newly acquired flight data and associated documentation, it has been possible to identify a clear set of aircraft operating as part of a coherent contracting network run by the CIA for the purposes of the RDI programme; new flight circuits by these aircraft linking secret prison destinations in Europe with each other, and with sites elsewhere in the network; and a new set of diversionary tactics employed by the CIA in order to disguise the contours of the RDI programme. Flight data analysis, however, leads to more than just a clearer picture of the pattern and practice of rendition flights in the War on Terror. When triangulated with other forms of evidence, it can also be used to help map (geographically) the human rights abuses which resulted from the RDI programme, and thus identify the jurisdictions within which rendition, secret detention and torture took place. In turn, this has led to a significant impact for advocacy efforts and for the attempts of prisoners formerly held at black sites to seek justice for the abuses they suffered. It is to the wider significance of our project that we now turn.
Tracking rendition aircraft can play a crucial role in seeking accountability for the multiple and systematic human rights abuses which resulted from the RDI programme. Rendition operations leave traces in the data which, especially in combination, may indicate complicity in enforced disappearance, secret detention and torture. Such traces can include repeated landings at particular airports; landings at locations which cannot be explained, geographically, as simple refuelling points midway through longer journeys; landings immediately before or after landings at known secret prison locations; landings at the same time and place as known rendition aircraft; landings as part of a documented contract which also encompasses proven rendition operations; and landings accompanied by the use of diversionary tactics used elsewhere for documented rendition operations. This type of analysis can suggest locations for secret prisons, as well as subsidiary (but nevertheless vital) nodes in the RDI programme, such as refuelling points and rest and relaxation locations for rendition teams.67
In some cases, such analysis has provided the first indications of secret prison locations, which have then been confirmed through further investigation.68
Elsewhere, flight data analysis has provided important corroborating evidence of secret detention facilities at a particular location.69
Establishing the locations of secret prisons in the network is an important investigative step, and underpins many efforts to ensure accountability. The analysis of flight data is at its most compelling, however, when triangulated with a range of other sources which identify those held within the programme, and the treatment to which they were subjected. Important sources in this regard include numerous first-hand accounts by those held within the programme and subsequently released,70
as well as the testimonies taken by the ICRC from 14 ‘high-value detainees’ in Guantánamo Bay, all of whom had been through the CIA’s detention programme.71
Such testimonies often give detailed chronological accounts of detentions and mistreatment. However, in themselves they are insufficient to constitute strong evidence as to where the detention and treatment occurred, since prisoners were often unaware of where they were, or could only make deductions from ambiguous phenomena such as weather conditions, guards’ language, food, and external noise. Two other types of evidence supplement these accounts. Declassified US government documents, such as the SSCI report, the 2004 report by the CIA’s Inspector General into treatment carried out in the early stages of the programme up to October 2003 (hereafter the ‘IG report’), and a set of official memoranda describing the detention and treatment regimes within the programme, together provide a detailed (although by no means complete) account of who was held in the black sites and how they were treated.72
However, key details (such as locations) are redacted throughout these documents. For example, in the SSCI report each black site is referred to by a pseudonym, such as BLUE, GREEN, COBALT (which bears no relation to the operational names given by the CIA), while all information which could identify the countries in which they were located has been redacted. In addition to these official documents, selected journalists have been granted unattributed comments by particular CIA officials concerning the exact whereabouts of particular individuals.73
Such briefings have often provided important indicators, but of course are uncorroborated. Moreover, the SSCI report found that the CIA in many cases provided information to selected journalists as part of a coordinated attempt to ‘shape’ press reporting of the programme, often through the leaking of inaccurate information.74
The veracity of all these sources can be tested, and in some cases strengthened, by cross-referencing them with flight data. Flight data analysis of the sort described in this article provides falsifiable evidence which can corroborate inferences from government redactions, testimony of prisoners and unattributed statements of officials. In this way it has been possible to name several prisoners held together in Poland in 2002–2003, and tie accounts of their individual abuse to their time in that country. Thus, it can be established with a very high degree of certainty that the first rendition flight into Poland, from Bangkok to Szymany in December 2002, had Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri on board. The SSCI report states that ‘in December 2002, when DETENTION SITE GREEN was closed, al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah were rendered to DETENTION SITE BLUE’.75
A careful reading of two further US government documents, each of which has been partially declassified (but with differing information left un-redacted in each case) reveals the exact day of the transfer (4 December 2002) and the fact that the two men were transferred together from one location to another.76
Flight data documents only one possible transfer by a rendition aircraft between known sites on that day, namely the trip by N63MU from Thailand to Poland.
Matching flight data with the SSCI report in other cases confirms that DETENTION SITE BLUE was in fact the Polish site. For example, the SSCI report states that ‘officers at CIA Headquarters decided that the CIA should obtain [redacted] custody of [Ramzi] bin al-Shibh [from the custody of a foreign government] and render him to DETENTION SITE BLUE in Country [redacted]’. The report then provides indications of when this rendition took place: ‘on February [redacted], 2003, in anticipation of bin al-Shibh’s arrival, interrogators … prepared an interrogation plan’.77
Unattributed comments by CIA officials have suggested that the foreign government concerned was Morocco, a fact which is supported by flight data matching the SSCI report’s earlier assertion that he was captured in Pakistan on 11 September 2002 and rendered to a foreign government ‘on September [redacted], 2002′.78
By 12 February 2003, ‘CIA interrogators at DETENTION SITE BLUE assessed that bin al-Shibh was cooperative.’79
Bin al-Shibh’s rendition from the custody of a foreign government (Morocco) to DETENTION SITE BLUE therefore took place at some point between 1 and 12 February 2003. Flight data provide independent confirmation of this rendition, and reveal the location of DETENTION SITE BLUE: the Gulfstream V with registration N379P flew from Morocco to Poland on 6 February 2003 (see Appendix A
). In a similar fashion, the SSCI report’s findings that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was rendered from DETENTION SITE COBALT to DETENTION SITE BLUE on ‘March [redacted], 2003’, and that he was subjected to an initial round of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ at BLUE ‘between March [redacted], 2003, and March 9, 2003′,80
can be matched with a flight on 7 March by rendition aircraft N379P (see Appendix A
). In Mohammed’s case, his own account to the ICRC gave other indicators which led him, independently, to consider that Poland was the place of detention. Others, such as Walid bin Attash, gave accounts to the ICRC which also closely match flights into Poland by aircraft known to have participated in rendition operations, and which disguised its landings at Szymany according to the methodology discussed above.81
Our recent work also supports accounts of prisoner movements during the later phase of the programme, 2004–2006, helping to build a picture of who was detained in Romania and Lithuania. Matching flight data with other sources alongside a close reading of the SSCI report allows us to determine that DETENTION SITE BLACK was the Romanian site and DETENTION SITE VIOLET was the Lithuanian site.82
The database documents flights into Romania from Guantánamo Bay in March and April 2004, and from Morocco in October 2004 and February 2005, each of which corroborates sources providing details of the movements of individual prisoners within the programme, and each of which has characteristics common to rendition flights.83
In addition, the database documents flights which closely match the accounts of newly captured prisoners being transferred to Romania, where sources place Janat Gul and Abu Faraj al-Libi after their initial detention in Pakistan and then Afghanistan in July 2004 and May 2005 respectively.84
Flight data from February 2005 has also corroborated the report of Abu Zubaydah’s rendition from Morocco to Lithuania.85
Establishing where named individuals were held at particular times, and successfully unpicking the pseudonyms given to the black sites in the SSCI report, is crucial, as it geographically locates the CIA torture of named individuals within specific jurisdictions. For example, the SSCI report provides significant details of the torture conducted at DETENTION SITE BLUE. Shortly after al-Nashiri’s arrival in Poland, interrogators concluded in a cable to headquarters that he was ‘being cooperative, and if subjected to indiscriminate and prolonged enhanced measures, there is a good chance that he will … suffer the sort of permanent mental harm prohibited by statute’. Regardless, headquarters sent an untrained interrogator to Poland to assess al-Nashiri, who led in the use of authorised and unauthorised ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’, such as mock execution, threats of torture with a power drill, threats of familial rape, and ‘bathing’ with a stiff brush in a technique designed specifically to cause pain.86 According to the IG report, al-Nashiri was also subjected to ‘potentially injurious stress positions’:
Al-Nashiri was required to kneel on the floor and lean back. On at least one occasion, an Agency officer reportedly pushed al-Nashiri backward while he was in this stress position. On another occasion, [redacted] said he had to intercede after [redacted] expressed concern that al-Nashiri’s arms might be dislocated from his shoulders. [Redacted] explained that, at the time, the interrogators were attempting to put al-Nashiri in a standing stress position. Al-Nashiri was reportedly lifted off the floor by his arms while his arms were bound behind his back with a belt.87
Prisoners’ own accounts of treatment in what we now know was Poland confirm the use of the full range of authorised ‘standard’ and ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques at the site, as well as unauthorised techniques.88
Prisoners speak of being shackled naked and in a standing position, with wrists tied to the ceiling, for days or weeks at a time; being doused each day with cold water from a hosepipe; being refused solid food or sanitation; and being subjected to continuous artificial light and either music or ‘white noise’; and, in some cases, being waterboarded.89
Walid bin Attash was made to wear a diaper for ten days at a time, far in excess of the time allowed. ‘On some occasions’, he reported, ‘the diaper was not replaced and so I had to urinate and defecate over myself’. During interrogations, he also ‘heard sounds of a person being tortured next door’.90
According to the IG report, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was waterboarded ‘in a manner inconsistent with’ Department of Justice (DoJ) authorisations, in that he was subjected to it over 180 times during March 2003.91
According to Mohammed, during this time his interrogators claimed they had had authorisation from Washington to give him a hard time, but that he would not be killed: ‘I was told that they would not allow me to die, but that I would be brought to the “verge of death and back again”’.92
Torture was used by the CIA at its Romania site. Hassan Ghul, for example, was subjected to 59 hours’ sleep deprivation after his arrival at DETENTION SITE BLACK, after which point he began to hallucinate. He was also hung from a ceiling for extended periods, inducing mild paralysis and abdominal and back muscle pain.93
Likewise, Janat Gul was subjected to ‘continuous sleep deprivation, facial holds, attention grasps, facial slaps, stress positions, and walling, until he experienced auditory and visual hallucinations’. According to cables from the site, Gul was ‘not orientated to time or place’, saw ‘his wife and children in the mirror and … heard their voices in the white noise’ and, ultimately, ‘asked to die, or just be killed’.94
Rather less is currently known about prisoner mistreatment in Lithuania. It is clear, however, that those detained in the programme during 2005–2006 were, at the very least, subjected to a range of conditioning techniques, including hooding, blindfolding, shackling, and constant illumination and noise.95
It is also clear that the impact of this form of prolonged, isolated, secret detention on those detained was considerable. According to the DoJ, it had ‘no illusions about the cumulative strain that these conditions may impose on prisoners … These conditions are unrelenting and, in some cases, have been in place for several years. [These] conditions, taken together and extended over an indefinite period, may exact a significant psychological toll.’96
1. ECtHR, ‘Secret Rendition and Detention by the CIA in Poland of Two Men Suspected of Terrorist Acts’, press release, ECtHR 231, 24 July 2014.
2. . ECtHR, Judgment: Case of al-Nashiri v. Poland (Application No. 28761/11), Strasbourg, 24 July 2014; ECtHR, Judgment: Case of Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland (Application No. 7511/13), Strasbourg, 24 July 2014. Despite an appeal by Poland, the judgments were made final on 16 February 2015.
4. See for example, Jordan Paust, ‘The Absolute Prohibition of Torture and Necessary and Appropriate Sanctions’, Valparaiso University Law Review
43 (2009): 1535–75; Jordan Paust, ‘The Second Bybee Memo: A Smoking Gun’, Jurist
, 22 April 2009, http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/forumy/2009/04/second-bybee-memo-smoking-gun.php
; United Nations Human Rights Council, Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Countering Terrorism
, A/HRC/13/42, 19 February 2010, paras 31–5, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/100219-UN-Joint_Study_Secret_Detention.pdf
5. SSCI, Committee Study, passim.
10. On the illegality of renditions, see Margaret Satterthwaite, ‘Rendered Meaningless: Extraordinary Rendition and the Rule of Law’, George Washington Law Review, Public Law Research Paper
, No. 06-36, 2007, http://ssrn.com/abstract=945711
13. For example, Peter Danssaert, Sergio Finardi and Brian Johnson-Thomas, Mapping the Labyrinth: More on the Strange Weapons Flight of 4L-AWA, International Peace Information Service vzw and Transarms Research Center for the Logistics of Arms Transfers, October 2010.
14. Crofton Black, US Special Operations Command Contracting: Data-Mining the Public Record, Remote Control Project, September 2014.
15. Dana Priest and William Arkin, Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2011).
16. On the modus operandi of a CIA rendition operation, see Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Alleged Secret Detentions and Unlawful Inter-State Transfers of Detainees Involving Council of Europe Member States
, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Doc. 10957, 12 June 2006, paras 79–87, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/060612-CoE-Alleged_Secret_Detentions.pdf
. On the use of boxes on board rendition flights, see the testimony of Saad Iqbal Madni, BBC Radio 4, ‘Torture by Facts?’, File on 4
, 28 July 2009, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/090728-BBC-Tortured_by_Facts.pdf
17. It is likely that this occurred during the April 2004 transfer of prisoners from Detention Site Cobalt to Detention Site Orange. Both prisons were in Afghanistan, but some of those rendered between the two have said that their flight took several hours, and that (partially as a result of the flight duration) they believed they had been taken to Europe. See Amnesty International, Below the Radar: Secret Flights to Torture and ‘Disappearance’
, AMR 51/051/2006, 5 April 2006, 12–14, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/060405-AI-Below_the_Radar.pdf
18. David Johnston and Mark Mazzetti, ‘A Window into CIA’s Embrace of Secret Jails’, New York Times, 12 August 2009.
19. Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo, ‘Inside Romania’s Secret CIA Prison’, Associated Press, 8 December 2011.
21. SSCI, Committee Study, 10.
22. Dana Priest, ‘CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prison: Debate is Growing Within Agency about Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up after 9/11’, The Washington Post, 2 November 2005. See, also: Dana Priest, ‘Foreign Network at Front of CIA’s Terror Fight: Joint Facilities in Two Dozen Countries Account for Bulk of Agency’s Post-9/11 Successes’, Washington Post, 18 November 2005; Brian Ross and Richard Esposito, ‘Sources Tell ABC News Top al Qaeda Figures Held in Secret CIA Prisons: 10 Out of 11 High-Value Terror Leaders Subjected to “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”’, ABC News, 5 December 2005.
24. PACE, Alleged Secret Detentions, paras 24–91.
25. PACE, Secret Detentions and Illegal Transfers of Detainees Involving Council of Europe Member States: Second Report
, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Doc. 11302 rev, 11 June 2007, paras 7–8, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/070711-CoE-Secret_Detentions_and_Illegal_Transfers.pdf
. The Lithuanian prisons remained undisclosed until journalists working for ABC News
first reported on it in August 2009. See, for example: Matthew Cole, ‘Officials: Lithuania Hosted Secret CIA Prison to Get “Our Ear”’, ABC News
, 20 August 2009; Matthew Cole, ‘Lithuanian President Announces Investigation into CIA Secret Prison’, ABC News
, 21 October 2009; Matthew Cole and Brian Ross, ‘Exclusive: CIA Secret “Torture” Prison Found at Fancy Horseback Riding Academy’, ABC News
, 18 November 2009; Craig Whitlock, ‘Lithuania Investigates Possible CIA “Black Site”’, Washington Post
, 19 November 2009.
26. Adam Goldman, ‘The Hidden History of the CIA’s Prison in Poland’, Washington Post, 23 January 2014.
28. Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (CNSD), Findings of the Parliamentary Investigation by the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence Concerning the Alleged Transportation and Confinement of Persons Detained by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America in the Territory of the Republic of Lithuania
, Annex to the Resolution of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, 22 December 2009, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/091222-CNSD
– Findings_Rendition_and_Detention_in_Lithuania.pdf. See, also, Cole and Ross, ‘CIA Prison at Riding Academy’.
29. Cole and Ross, ‘CIA Prison at Riding Academy’. The detention function of the site was confirmed by the CNSD inquiry, Findings of the Parliamentary Investigation
, 6–7, and by a delegation from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), Report to the Lithuanian Government on the Visit to Lithuania from 14 to 18 June 2010
, 19 May 2011, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/110519-CoE-Report_to_Lithuanian_Govt.pdf
30. Johnston and Mazzetti, ‘A Window’.
31. ECtHR, Judgment: Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, para. 297. See, also, Matthew Day, ‘CIA “Ordered Cage to Hold Prisoners in Poland”’, The Telegraph, 20 June 2012; CNSD, Findings of the Parliamentary Investigation, 6–7.
33. See, for example, Grey, ‘US Accused of “Torture Flights”’; Amnesty International, Below the Radar, 27.
34. PACE, Alleged Secret Detentions, para. 44.
35. Such registration numbers are displayed on the tail of the aircraft, and thus are often referred to as its ‘tail number’. As will be seen below, some of the rendition aircraft were re-registered with new tail numbers to hide their tracks. Thus, one aircraft can in fact have more than one tail number over time.
36. These data were compiled by the rapporteur into a database, which allowed him to ‘make a significant step towards a better comprehension of the system of “renditions” and secret detention centres’. PACE, Alleged Secret Detentions, paras 44–9.
37. Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Data String Analysis, 1–2.
39. Given the re-registration of some aircraft to cover tracks, as discussed below, the 39 tail numbers investigated actually refer to 34 individual aircraft.
40. See, for example, OSJI and HFHR, Explanation of Rendition Flight Records Released by the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency
, 22 February 2010, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/100222-OSJI-HFHR-Poland_FOI_Flight_Data_Explanation.pdf
; PANSA, Letter to HFHR, 31 March 2010, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/100331-PANSA-Poland_FOI_Flight_Data_Letter.pdf
; PANSA, Letter to HRHR, 2 June 2010, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/100602-PANSA-Poland_FOI_Flight_Data_Letter.pdf
; Border Guard Office, Letter to HFHR, 23 July 2010, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/100723
42. Scott Shane, Stephen Grey and Margot Williams, ‘CIA Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights’, New York Times
, 31 May 2005; EP, Working Document No. 8
, 2–6; Deborah M. Weissman, The North Carolina Connection to Extraordinary Rendition and Torture
, University of North Carolina School of Law, January 2012, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/120100-UNC-North_Carolina_Connection.pdf
43. Thus, plans were filed with the designations DEPARTMENT OF STATE SUPPORT, STS/STATE, or STS/ATFM EXEMPT APPROVED. For discussion of the force of these designations, see Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, Data String Analysis, 3. It appears that this tactic was adopted specifically by aircraft owned by the CIA, as opposed to those hired pursuant to the contracts discussed below.
44. An exception to this gap was the excellent work uncovering the Aero Contractors network. See, for example, Weissman, North Carolina Connection.
45. Although for some early reporting on aspects of this, see Seth Hettena, ‘Navy Office Contracted Planes Used in CIA Missions’, Associated Press, 24 September 2005.
46. The prime contract is referred to throughout the documentation, although the text of this remains classified.
49. Particular thanks are due to Hélène Flautre, Natacha Kazatchkine, Mathias Wuidar and Sophie Chabridon.
52. Ali H. Soufan, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against al-Qaeda (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2011), 375; Goldman, ‘The Hidden History’.
53. The false flight plan was filed by the trip planner Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. (identifier ‘UVAO’). Documents released by the Polish Border Guard Office, however, show that N63MU landed at Szymany on 5 December 2002, carrying eight passengers and four crew. Border Guard Office, Letter to HFHR.
54. United Nations Human Rights Council, Joint Study, para. 116.
56. Goldman, ‘The Hidden History’.
57. Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman, ‘AP Exclusive: CIA Flight Carried Secret from Gitmo’, Associated Press, 7 August 2010.
59. Thomas Hammarberg, Advancing Accountability in Respect of the CIA Black Site in Romania, memorandum, Council of Europe, 30 March 2012, 5.
60. An additional circuit in October 2003 by N379P links Romania with Jordan, Afghanistan and Iraq, and may have taken prisoners back out of Europe at that stage.
61. Cole, ‘Lithuanian President Announces Investigation’.
62. For more on these flights, see Amnesty International, Unlock the Truth in Lithuania, September 2011, 22–4.
63. Cole, ‘Lithuania Hosted Secret CIA Prison’.
65. CNSD, Findings of the Parliamentary Investigation, 5.
66. The original evidence concerning the specific facts in this paragraph is collated at Reprieve, Flights Dossier.
67. See, for example, PACE, Alleged Secret Detentions, para. 43.
68. See, for example, Human Rights Watch, ‘Statement on US Secret Detention Facilities’.
69. Reprieve, Flights Dossier.
71. ICRC, Report on ‘High Value Detainees’. This report was marked as confidential, but subsequently leaked to the New York Times.
72. See, for example, OIG, Special Review
; Bradbury, Application of United States Obligations
; Jay S. Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, memorandum for John Rizzo, Acting General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative
, 1 August 2002, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/020801-DoJ-Interrogation_of_al_Qaeda_Operative.pdf
; Steven G. Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice, memorandum for John A. Rizzo, Acting General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency, Re: Application of the Detainee Treatment Act to Conditions of Confinement at Central Intelligence Agency Detention Facilities
, 31 August 2006, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/060831-DoJ-Application_of_DTA_to_CIA_Prisons.pdf
73. Of particular note in this regard has been the pioneering work of Adam Goldman, whose work for the Associated Press
unearthed basic details regarding the detentions of some of the high value detainees (HVDs). See, for example, Adam Goldman, ‘Secret Jails: Terror Suspect’s Odyssey Through CIA’s “Black Sites”’, Associated Press
, 2010, http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/wdc/binalshibh/content.swf
74. SSCI, Committee Study, 401–4.
75. Ibid., 67.
77. SSCI, Committee Study, 76.
79. SSCI, Committee Study, 78.
80. Ibid., 84.
81. Mohammed thought he was in Poland due to being passed a water bottle with a .pl email address on the label. Likewise, Bin Attash’s testimony correlates closely with the 5 June flight by N379P from Kabul to Szymany. ICRC, Report on ‘High Value Detainees‘, 32, 34–5.
83. Hammarberg, Advancing Accountability; Apuzzo and Goldman, ‘CIA Flight Carried Secret’; Goldman, ‘Secret Jails’; SSCI, Committee Study, 141.
84. Hammarberg, Advancing Accountability, 15.
85. For a combination of sources which point to all of these movements, see Apuzzo and Goldman, ‘CIA Flight Carried Secret’; Goldman, ‘Secret Jails’; Hammarberg, Advancing Accountability, 14; ECtHR, Application: Abu Zubaydah v. Poland.
86. SSCI, Committee Study, 68–70. See, also, OIG, Special Review, paras 92–8.
87. OIG, Special Review, para. 97.
88. For an official discussion of authorised interrogation techniques, including the so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ (EITs), see, Bybee, Interrogation of al Qaeda Operative.
89. See accounts provided to the ICRC by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Walid bin Attash. ICRC, Report on ‘High Value Detainees’.
90. ICRC, Report on ‘High Value Detainees‘, 33.
91. OIG, Special Review, paras 99–100 and 225; SSCI, Committee Study, 85–93.
92. ICRC, Report on ‘High Value Detainees‘, 36.
93. SSCI, Committee Study, 132–3.
94. Ibid., 136–7.
95. See, for example, Letter from [redacted] to Steven Bradbury, Re: Requests for Information on Security Measures, 18 May 2006; Bradbury, Application of the Prisoner Treatment Act, Part I.A, 2.
96. Bradbury, Application of the Prisoner Treatment Act, Part C, 25.
98. ECtHR, Judgment: al-Nashiri v. Poland, paras 405–15; Judgment: Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, paras 405–15.
99. See, for example, ECtHR, Application: al-Nashiri
, 33234/12, 2 August 2012, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/120802-ECHR-Application_al-Nashiri_v_Romania.pdf
; Application: Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husayn (ABU ZUBAYDAH)
v. The Republic of Lithuania
, 46454/11, 14 July 2011, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/110714-ECHR-Application_Zubaydah_v_Lithuania.pdf
; REDRESS and Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Joint Complaint to Lithuanian Prosecutor General Regarding Mustafa al-Hawsawi’s Rendition, Secret Detention and Torture in Lithuania
, 13 September 2013, http://www.therenditionproject.org.uk/documents/RDI/130913-RDRS-HRMI-Joint_Complaint_to_Lithuanian_Prosecutor_General_Hawsawi.pdf
100. See, for example, evidence introduced to court in Richmor Aviation, Inc. v. Sportsflight Air, Inc., 918 N.Y.S.2d 806 (2011).
101. Mohammed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. United States District Court, District of Northern California, Civil Action No. 5:07-cv-02798, 1 August 2007.
102. Mohammed Abdullah Saleh al-Asad v. Djibouti, African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights, 54th Ordinary Session, October–November 2013, Communication No. 383/2010.