Iceland Participated in CIA Extraordinary Rendition - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland Participated in CIA Extraordinary Rendition

Published February 5, 2013

Human rights organisation, the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) has released an extensive report detailing the extent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) post-9/11 extraordinary rendition program, and implicating 54 countries, Iceland included, in cooperating with the American firm in facilitating global kidnapping, detention, and torture operations.
Titled “Globalizing Torture” (PDF), the OSJI report outlines that the CIA undertook a “highly classified program of secret detention and extraordinary rendition [(the illegal apprehension and transfer)] of terrorist suspects…” and that “suspected terrorists were seized and secretly flown across national borders to be interrogated by foreign governments that used torture, or by the CIA itself in clandestine ‘black sites’ using torture techniques.”
According to the report, Iceland routinely allowed flights associated with the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program to enter its airspace or use its airports between 2001 and 2007.
“A cable released by the U.S. government [from the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavík to then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] stated that on October 27, 2007, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir confirmed that aircraft linked to the CIA extraordinary rendition program had landed in or used Iceland’s airspace between 2001 and July 2007, but was unable to confirm whether such flights had carried any detainees when landing in Iceland or entering the country’s airspace,” the report reads in part.
In the Embassy cable (PDF), Ingibjörg is described as bringing it to the press’ attention that it had been confirmed that CIA rendition flights had used the country’s airspace and airports and that she was calling for closer inspection of such aircraft in the future. The cable quotes Ingibjörg as stating that it would be “very grave if prisoners have been moved through Icelandic airspace for the purpose of torture, as this would be inconsistent with international law and Iceland’s obligations.”
The cable concludes that very little public conversation about or media analysis of Iceland’s participation in the extraordinary rendition program had occurred and that then Prime Minster Geir Haarde was out of the country and had, therefore, not addressed the matter.
The OSJI report condemns high-ranking U.S. government officials under the Bush regime for their rampant violations of human rights where extraordinary rendition is concerned. But it further notes that “responsibility for these violations does not end with the United States. Secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations, designed to be conducted outside the United States under cover of secrecy, could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.”
According to The Guardian, the OSJI is calling for the U.S. government to put an end to its rendition program, including closing all remaining secret prisons and launching criminal investigations into human rights abuses. Furthermore it calls upon non-U.S. governments, Iceland’s included, to cease cooperation with CIA extraordinary rendition operations and to potentially launch criminal investigations against those who should be held accountable for their nation being implicated in such a global human rights violation.
Davíð Oddsson (Independence Party), Halldór Ásgrímsson (Progressive Party), and Geir Haarde (Independence Party) acted as Prime Minister over the period of Iceland’s involvement.

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