Ireland: 'responsible for collusion' in CIA renditions

A new report lays bare the 'global spider's web' of collusion in US renditions and secret detention of 'war on terror' prisoners. Colin Murphy reports

Ireland has been a "stopover" for rendition flights and has colluded with the US in CIA renditions, according to a new Council of Europe report.

The report, by Swiss senator Dick Marty, lays bare a comprehensive network of countries, facilities and flight paths which it calls a "global spider's web" of renditions and secret detention.

"It is now clear... that authorities in several European countries actively participated with the CIA in these unlawful activities. Other countries ignored them knowingly, or did not want to know," says Dick Marty.

Central to Dick Marty's investigation were flight plan records provided by EuroControl, the European air traffic agency. These records confirmed earlier reports (in Village and elsewhere) of "civil" aircraft flying between European airports (including Shannon) and US bases, or destinations such as Kabul and Baghdad, which corresponded with accounts given by prisoners of their abduction and rendition.

Ireland is identified, along with the UK, Portugal, Greece and Italy, as being a "stopover" for rendition flights, with other European countries identified as "staging points": these are all responsible for "active or passive" collusion, Dick Marty says (he defines passive collusion as "having tolerated or having been negligent in fulfilling the duty to supervise" alleged renditions).

Dick Marty identifies 18 people who were captured and transferred by rendition (ie without due legal process) to US prisons or to third countries where, according to subsequent reports, they were tortured. These prisoners were transferred using a series of "rendition circuits", amounting to a "spider's web spun across the globe".

One of the prisoners so transferred was Binyam Mohamed al Habashi, a British resident who was captured in Pakistan and transferred to Morocco in July 2002. According to the report, he said he was set upon by unidentified people who "stripped him naked, took photos, put fingers up his anus and dressed him in a tracksuit. He was shackled, with earphones, and blindfolded... Official flight records... show that the known rendition plane, N379P, took off from Islamabad on 21 July 2002 and flew to Rabat, Morocco." As reported first in Village, that plane then flew to Shannon for a "technical stop" and then on to Washington.

Dick Marty also cites evidence that Romania and Poland have hosted secret US detention centres, in the form of EuroControl flight plans. These reveal CIA stop-offs in Romania which could not be explained by any need to re-fuel and stop-offs in Poland which were denied by the Polish authorities.