European Investigations into Rendition Flights
Collecting flight data relating to suspicious aircraft was central to the investigations during 2005-2007 by both the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.
The Council of Europe’s Marty Investigation requested data on 55 registration numbers considered suspicious. This data was requested from Eurocontrol, and from a range of national aviation authorities (around twenty of which provided data). The resulting data was compiled into one large database, portions of which were published in appendices to the first report in 2006.
The European Parliament’s Fava Investigation accessed data from both Eurocontrol and the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), on 37 registration numbers corresponding to 32 separate aircraft. This data showed that these aircraft were all CIA-linked, and stopped over in European airports more than 1200 times between 9/11 and the end of 2005. Sections of this data were published in two ‘working documents’ (here and here) for the investigation. A more comprehensive set of this data was published in a separate report by the Rapporteur.
Between them, these two official enquiries compiled a significant amount of flight data, which allowed for the scope and extent of the renditions flight network to be appreciated for the first time. However, it has since become apparent that there are several limitations with the data collected at this time:
- the datasets themselves have yet to be made public in their entirety, limiting the ability of current investigators to further analyse the network of secret flights.
- several aircraft which are now considered suspicious were not known to these official enquiries.
- the enquiries collected data up until the end of 2005, and so were not able to build a full picture of rendition flights during 2005-2006, or after the CIA secret prison system was ostensibly moth-balled.
These ‘holes in the web’ have been filled to a certain extent by organisations and individuals filing Freedom of Information requests to air traffic authorities across Europe and North America.