Logs suggest N.L. role in CIA rendition flights
The British human rights group Reprieve says it has new evidence of Newfoundland and Labrador's role in extraordinary rendition flights involving the CIA.
Extraordinary rendition is deemed the abduction and illegal transfer of a person from one nation to another.
Reprieve, based in London, said a chartered plane long suspected of transferring prisoners repeatedly stopped in Gander, central Newfoundland, on its way to Afghanistan from Guantanamo Bay in 2004.
Reprieve said it received the flight logs from U.S. aviation authorities, but their Canadian counterparts won't release the information. Logs obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration show a 2004 flight that began in Washington, D.C., stopped in Guantanamo Bay, then Gander, then Bagram Airfield and eventually Vilnius Lithuania.
Lithuania recently became the focus of a case at the European Human Rights Court after a man alleged he was tortured by the CIA there.
"The evidence suggests that Canada, by virtue of its location, was a very vital, logistical point for the extraordinary renditions program. That is evidenced more and more clearly as time goes on," said Crofton Black, who is with Reprieve.
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Black said that's verified by flight logs provided by the FAA, one of the 28 aviation authorities that received an access to information request from Reprieve.
Nav Canada is among the authorities that refused to release flight logs to Reprieve. It is not subject to information laws because it is a private company.
Amnesty International said it took its concerns about Canada’s role in extraordinary renditions to the federal transportation minister four years ago:
"We could not get a clear answer at all, including, whether or not Canada was specifically reviewing these flights with Canada's specific human rights obligations in mind. We couldn't even get confirmation about that," said Alex Neve of Amnesty International.
Under the Obama administration, the CIA promised to shut down overseas detention centres and stop rendition flights, but human rights group say unless countries open up their flight logs, that promise is hard to verify.