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CIA used private air carriers to hide rendition: Amnesty International report

[JURIST] The US Central Intelligence Agency [official website] hid its rendition [JURIST news archive] of terrorism suspects to various foreign countries by using private air carriers and "front" companies, according to a new report [PDF text; AI summary] released by Amnesty International [advocacy website] late Tuesday. According to "Below the Radar: Secret Flights to Torture and 'Disappearance,'" the CIA has transported suspects to various CIA and military bases and has handed them over to the custody of other governments - including Egypt, Jordan and Syria - for interrogation and detention. The report says that the CIA has avoided detection by taking advantage of the terms of the Convention on International Civil Aviation [PDF text], the so-called "Chicago Convention" under which private, non-commercial flights may fly over countries and make technical stops without notifying the country.

The Amnesty report details the experiences of three Yemeni men, Muhammad Bashmilah and Salah 'Ali Qaru, arrested in Jordan, and Muhammad al-Assad, arrested in Tanzania. The three claim they were detained by US authorities for about 18 months at various locations around the world. The three reported being taken on several flights to different detention centers, with officials making great efforts to avoid revealing the locations.

US officials have repeatedly denied using rendition to allow suspects to be tortured by foreign governments, although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has acknowledged making mistakes [JURIST report] in its "war on terror." In March, the Council of Europe Secretary General issued a report [JURIST report] concluding that there was no clear evidence of any secret CIA detention facilities in Europe. Suspicions have persisted, however, with declassified Canadian memos and UK air traffic controllers [JURIST reports] suggesting that the US did use rendition to transfer suspects through their domestic airspaces. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak recently said that he is certain [JURIST report] that the United States has secret detention facilities in Europe and has demanded access to them.

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