Secret CIA flight plans reveal how European authorities were duped

October 12, 2011

New documents exposing well-disguised CIA flights through Europe demonstrate the need for more robust inquiries into EU states’ complicity in the CIA’s secret prisons programme. Data focusing on Lithuania, but linked to suspected CIA activity in a raft of other countries in Europe, North America, the Middle East and North Africa, has been identified by Reprieve investigators and passed to the Lithuanian prosecutor. Reprieve is now calling on the Lithuanian authorities to re-open their investigation into CIA renditions and secret prisons on their own soil, and to probe the newly-discovered web of suspicious flight links to other countries. The new documents show that:

    Lithuania’s attempts to establish what the CIA did in the country between 2004-06 have been oddly unsuccessful, failing to identify key clues to several potential rendition flights Two flights entered Lithuania from Morocco and Bucharest – known secret prison sites – in February 2005, around the time that ‘High Value Detainee’ Abu Zubaydah was transferred to a CIA black site in Lithuania A crucial plane identified by the previous Lithuanian inquiry (registered as N787WH) tried to disguise its true destination (Lithuania) by filing a route plan to Gothenburg, Sweden Many other European  countries now linked to the CIA’s rendition flight programme have questions to answer, including Austria, Canada, Germany, Iceland, Jordan, Portugal, Romania and the USA

In a letter to Lithuania’s Deputy Prosecutor General, Darius RaulušaitisReprieve’s Director, Clive Stafford Smith said: “Compelling new information that has now come to light about the landings of CIA-connected planes in Lithuania makes a rigorous and wide-ranging investigation all the more urgent. It is now clear that previous efforts to chart the extent of the CIA’s rendition operations in Europe revealed ONLY the tip of the iceberg.” Lydia Medland of Access Info Europe said: “Once information about violations of human rights has come to light through compliance with the public’s right to know, government have an obligation both to act on this information and to ensure that they release all other related documents.”  ENDS Notes to editors 1.Documents recently released by Reprieve show how US-based conglomerate, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), contracted a Richmor Aviation plane, N85VM, to perform renditions and other government missions on behalf of the CIA between 2002 and 2005. Confidential documents in possession of Reprieve show that the same corporation contracted two other jets in February 2005 to fly into Lithuania from two other known secret prison sites: Morocco and Bucharest. The flight plans of each plane included multiple stop-offs, and multiple possibilities for disguising the true provenance and purpose of the flights. The arrival of these planes in Lithuania was confirmed by a freedom of information request made jointly by Reprieve and Access Info Europe.

 2. The planes flew into Lithuania within 24 hours of each other in February 2005 – significant timing in the light of public source accounts stating that “high value detainee” Abu Zubaydah was moved from Morocco to Lithuania around this time. 3. Records collected by a previous Lithuanian inquiry showed that a plane registered as N787WH flew from Bucharest, Romania to Lithuania on 18 February 2005. Documents obtained by Reprieve and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights show that this plane disguised its true destination by filing a route plan to Gothenburg, Sweden. Furthermore, it has yet to be disclosed where this plane stopped prior to Bucharest; in particular, the question arises as to whether it shared some of the same stop-off points as N724CL, which landed in Lithuania en route from Morocco on the previous day.4. Freedom of Information replies from the Lithuanian Civil Aviation Authority, showing the landings of N724CL and N787WH in Lithuania; from Vilnius Airport, confirming the landing of N724CL in Vilnius; and from the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency showing the overflight permission for N787WH and its disguised route plan (to Gothenburg) are available on Reprieve’s website.

5. The full text of the letter to Deputy Prosecutor General, Darius Raulušaitis can be found here.