CSC’s covert flights through Lithuania
Lithuania, Morocco, Romania and Afghanistan: CSC’s disguised black site tours
February 2005 and March 2006
Reprieve has uncovered covert flights organised by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) connecting Lithuania to other countries in the CIA’s black site network, Romania, Morocco and Afghanistan. The routes of these flights were reported incorrectly or incompletely by the Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry into CIA activities in Lithuania, with the result that the Lithuanian parliament was misinformed about their relevance.
Trip contracted by CSC, 18 February 2005, from Morocco and Romania to Lithuania
Boeing 737, registered N787WH, operated by Victory Aviation Florida, 15-19 February 2005
Route: Baltimore (KBWI) – Santa Maria, Azores (LPAZ) – Salzburg (LOWS) – Malaga (LEMG) – Rabat (GMME) – Constanta / Bucharest (LRCK / LRBS) – Palanga (EYPA) – Copenhagen (EKCH) – Gander (CYQX) – Baltimore (KBWI)
Data from the Federal Aviation Authority [A.1] and EuroControl [A.2] shows N787WH’s progress from the USA to Morocco, Romania, Lithuania and back. Based in Florida (FLL) it flew to Baltimore Washington International (BWI) on 14 February 2005. On 15 February 2005 it went from Baltimore Washington International to Santa Maria, Azores (LPAZ). It then filed a flight plan to Munich (EDDM) but was impeded by snow and went instead to Salzburg (LOWS). An aviation newletter (“Planes International – Flughafen Salzburg”) references its arrival in Salzburg (“Statt nach München kam die B737-200 N787WH nach SZG”) [A.4].
On 17 February it left Salzburg in the afternoon and headed to Malaga (LEMG), where it paused until the middle of the night. It then left Malaga in the early hours of 18 February, arriving in Rabat (GMME) around 02:40. After just over two hours in Rabat it proceeded to Romania, filing a flight plan into Constanta (LRCK) – although its flight plan for the next leg of the trip was filed not out of Constanta but out of Bucharest Baneasa (LRBS) [A.2]. It left Romania in the afternoon of 18 February and filed a false flight plan into Gothenburg, Sweden [A.9-10]. Its true destination, however, was Palanga, Lithuania, where it arrived, according to an invoice for “State Charge for Air and Terminal Navigations Services – Palanga”, at 18:09 [A.11].
EuroControl and Palanga airport records both indicate that it left Palanga shortly afterwards, at 19:30, bound for Copenhagen [A.2, A.11]. The plane paused overnight in Copenhagen, then continued to Gander, Canada (CYQX). Information released by the Federal Aviation Authority shows that it then returned to Baltimore International (KBWI/BWI) and finally to its home base in Florida (FLL) [A.1].
N787WH’s flight was contracted by CSC under subcontract S1007312, task order 20, at an estimated cost of $399,140 (37.6 flying hours at $8,500 per hour, plus $79,540 of “mission specific costs”) [A.12-13].
Although the Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry cited N787WH’s flight from Bucharest to Palanga on 18 February, neither this inquiry nor any comment by Lithuanian prosecutors referred to the plane’s origin in Morocco.
Two trips contracted by CSC, 25-6 March 2006, connecting Lithuania and Afghanistan
The Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry noted that a Boeing 737 registered N733MA arrived in Palanga on 25 March 2006, coming from Porto, and that it returned to Porto; no further information about it was provided, other than the facts that “no customs inspection was carried out” and the border guard provided “no records of the landing and inspection of this aircraft”.
Investigation by Reprieve has established that, far from returning to Porto as recorded by officials at Palanga airport, [A.14-15] N733MA continued to Cairo [A.16], where it made a connection with another Boeing 737, registered as N740EH. N740EH then proceeded to Kabul. Both planes were chartered by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) and operated by Miami Air International, Florida.
N733MA, 23-27 March 2006: Philadelphia (KPHL) – Porto (LPPR) – Palanga (EYPA) – Cairo (HECA) – Iraklion (LGIR) – Keflavik (BIKF)
N740EH, 23-28 March 2006: Wilmington (KILG) – Marrakesh (GMMX) – Cairo (HECA) – Kabul (OAKB) – Amman (OJAI) – Iraklion (LGIR) – Keflavik (BIKF)
Data provided by EuroControl shows that N740EH flew from New Castle, Delaware (KILG) to Marrakesh (GMMX) on 23 March [A.17]. There is no record of its subsequent movements until 26 March.
In the meantime, N733MA, having left Philadelphia International (KPHL), passed through Porto (LPPR), then filed a flight plan to Helsinki (EFHK) on the afternoon of 25 March [A.17]. Finnish records show that it never arrived in Helsinki, however [A.19]; instead, it went to Palanga (EYPA), touching down at 22:25 local time (in close proximity to its scheduled arrival time of 20:38 GMT) [A.17]. It paused for 90 minutes in Palanga. Records from EuroControl and the Polish Air Navigation Authority both show that on leaving Palanga it went not to Porto, as the Lithuanian parliamentary inquiry was informed, but to Cairo (HECA) [A.16, A.17]. Its scheduled arrival time in Cairo was 02:19 GMT on 26 March.
While N733MA was making its way to Palanga, N740EH was on the way to Cairo. Although records do not show when it arrived in Cairo, or from where, they do indicate that it left Cairo shortly after N733MA arrived there – at 02:45 GMT on 26 March – and that it went from Cairo to Kabul (OAKB), with an arrival time in Kabul of 08:32 [A.18].
N740EH then returned westwards from Kabul, pausing briefly in Amman (OJAI) before making a longer stop in Iraklion (LGIR). It arrived in Iraklion around 23:07 on 26 March. N733MA had also flown to Iraklion direct from Cairo and was waiting there, having arrived at 04:59 the same day. Both planes left Iraklion for Keflavik (BIKF) – N733MA on the morning of 27 March, and N740EH on the morning of 28 March [A.18].
Documents relating to the planning of these two trips show complex attempts to disguise the fact that the purpose of the trips was to provide a connection between Lithuania and Afghanistan. Both trips were included on one invoice (LT050602-0666, subcontract S1008117, task 66, 30 March 2006) [A.22]. The planes were incorrectly designated, however, with similar but distinct tailnumbers: “N740MA” (41.9 flying hours) and “N739MA” (35.1 flying hours), each charged at $9,500 per hour totalling $731,500 for both aircraft. No routes are given on the invoice, although it notes that overnight stops were made in Porto and Marrakesh as well as two locations in the USA.
The flight schedule (“Schedule B”) accompanying the charter contract shows that both planes’ destinations were kept secret up to the last minute [A.23]. Comparison with EuroControl’s data unravels the coded route, while showing that the schedule was closely adhered to. Although the planes’ registrations are not included in this document, it is clear that one plane (in reality N733MA) would fly from Porto (OPO) to “WWW” (i.e. Palanga), arriving at 20:40 on 25 March, while the other would fly from Marrakesh (RAK) to “XXX”, arriving at 00:35 on 26 March. The plane from “WWW” (Palanga) would, in the meantime, continue to “XXX” (i.e. Cairo), arriving at 02:25; and at 03:10 one of the planes (namely N740EH) would go from “XXX” to “TTT” – that is, from Cairo to Kabul. It would arrive in “TTT” at 09:30 and then head to “ZZZ” – that is, Amman, Jordan.
According to public sources, the Lithuanian prison site was closed in the first half of 2006, and its occupants transferred either to Afghanistan or other countries [A.26]. On the basis of evidence presented here, it is probable that the flights of N733MA and N740EH in March 2006 served this purpose, and that the contractors operaed two flights rather than one, switching planes in between the origin and destination points to disguise the true itinerary.
List of documents
A.1. Extract from data provided by Federal Aviation Authority to Access Info Europe and Reprieve, 30 Nov. 2011, showing filed routes of N787WH in February 2005.
A.2. Extract from data provided by EuroControl to the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee, May 2012, showing filed routes of N787WH in February 2005.
A.3-8. Aviation Newsletter, “Planes International – Flughafen Salzburg”, citing the arrival of N787WH in Salzburg rather than in Munich.
A.9-10. Extract from data released by Polish Air Navigation Services Agency to Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw (4 July 2011), showing false route filed from Bucharest to Gothenburg.
A.11. Invoice for “State Charge for Air and Terminal Navigations Services – Palanga” giving arrival and departure times and routes of N787WH into and out of Palanga.
A.12-13. Subcontract Task Order Modification from CSC for N787WH between 15 and 18 February 2005 (Prime Contract number: classified; subcontract: S1007312; task order: 20).
A.14-15. Letter from Palanga Airport authorities to Lithuanian Civil Aviation Authority, 14 Dec. 2009, citing arrival of N733MA from Porto and its falsly recorded return to Porto.
A.16. Extract from data released by Polish Air Navigation Services Agency to Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw (4 July 2011), showing N733MA’s true route from Palanga to Cairo.
A.17-18. Extract from data provided by EuroControl to the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee, May 2012, showing filed routes of N733MA and N740EH in March 2006.
A.19-21. Article from Helsingin Sanomat, 4 November 2011, noting false flight plan filed by N733MA from Porto to Helsinki.
A.22. Invoice to CSC for several planes, including “N740MA” and “N739MA” (in fact referring to trip carried out by N740EH and N733MA).
A.23. “Schedule B” showing partially disguised trip planning for two planes in March 2006, correlating with trips performed by N740EH and N733MA.
A.24-26. Associated Press Article, 8 Dec. 2011, citing closure of Lithuanian CIA prison in the first half of 2006 and transfer of detainees to Kabul.