Foreign Ministry investigates whether CIA "abused" Icelandic airports
On Friday, members of all the parties currently in opposition proposed a resolution to Alþingi, by which the parliament would “severely condemn torture conducted by the USA’s secret service and which authorities have condoned since the terrorist attack on September 11, 2011”.
The Pirates’ Birgitta Jónsdóttir is the proposal’s first speaker.
The exposition attached to the opposition’s proposal cites the executive summary of the US Senate’s report on CIA torture, disclosed last Tuesday. The exposition mentions some of the report’s key findings. It then cites the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which both Iceland and the USA have signed and ratified. The covenant’s Article 7 states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Also on Friday, Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson stated before Alþingi that the Foreign Ministry had started an investigation as to whether the CIA’s airplanes transporting victims for torture stopped over in Iceland. He said that “this is a very serious matter and important to investigate in any way possible whether facilities in Iceland were in any way abused for these operations”.
According to the report “Globalizing Torture”, published by Open Society Foundations in 2013, Iceland “permitted use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with the CIA extraordinary rendition program.” Between 2001 and 2005, CIA airplanes landed in the country “at least 67 times”. This has been confirmed by the Foreign Ministry. What allegedly remains unconfirmed is whether those flights carried any detainees. The flights included
As phrased in a US Embassy document leaked through Wikileaks, and cited in the report, Iceland’s Foreign Minister in 2008, Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, “flatly dismissed opposition calls for an independent inquiry into suspected CIA rendition flights through Iceland in a parliamentary session”.
Open Society’s report goes on to list four flights known to have stopped in Keflavík and to have been used for carrying prisoners around the same time.
Iceland supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as a member of the so-called “coalition of the wiling”. In his recently published memoirs from the Cold War, Morgunblaðið’s former editor-in-chief Styrmir Gunnarsson confirms that his reasons for supporting the invasion was the hope that the USA would in return extend their military presence in Iceland. Davíð Oddsson, then Prime Minister, now Morgunblaðið’s editor-in-chief, and Halldór Ásgrímsson, Foreign Minister at the time, have not spoken as openly about their reasons, on behalf of the republic. The decision was never discussed or put to vote in Alþingi. In 2010, two members of Alþingi proposed an investigation of the decision-making process behind Iceland’s declared support, which failed to materialise. Their Keflavík base was, regardless, shut down in 2006.