After the January 2008 broadcast on Danish TV of a documentary alleging rendition flights through Danish and Greenlandic airspace (including stopovers), various attempts were made to secure flight data for suspected CIA aircraft. In particular, questions were asked in Danish Parliament, whilst the Danish Government set up the “Inter-Ministerial Working Group for the Compilation of the Report Concerning Secret CIA Flights in Denmark, Greenland and on the Faroe Islands” (hereafter, the “Working Group”).
Parliamentary Question 612
The first parliamentary question (Question 612) was asked in the Traffic Committee in May 2008. Following this, the Danish CAA wrote to Eurocontrol’s CRCO in May 2008, on behalf of the Minister of Transport. This letter requested data on all charges paid by the operating company International Group LLC, and the trip planning company Universal Weather, for flights crossing Danish airspace.
The CRCO responded in June 2008, with a two complementary (and significantly overlapping) lists of all flights billed to Universal Weather up until May 2008 (no records were found for International Group LLC, because flights by aircraft operated by this company were planned by Universal Weather, and so were included in the first list). These lists came from two complementary databases holding flight information for the purposes of route charging, and each held just over 1500 flights. However, most of these were for aircraft operated by Universal Weather but unconnected to the CIA programme. Around 40 flights on each list were for aircraft otherwise considered suspicious.
Inter-Ministerial Working Group
Through 2008, the Working Group examined the question of whether renditions were carried out through Danish, Greenlandic or Faroese airspace, and whether authorities in these countries had knowledge of any such activity. In so doing, the Working Group compiled a list of 132 aircraft considered suspicious, and sought flight information from air traffic authorities in these three countries, plus Iceland and Canada. Overall, records of nearly 2,000 flights by these aircraft were compiled.
Parliamentary Question 881
In March 2011, over two years after the release of the Working Group’s report, a second question (Question 881) was asked in the Danish Parliament (Traffic Committee) to the Minister of Transport, regarding two additional aircraft not investigated by the Working Group: N787WH and N961BW.
A written answer by the Minister of Transport was presented in April 2011 (English translation here), based on data provided Danish, Icelandic and Canadian air traffic authorities. The new flight data itself contained 17 flights by these two aircraft, between January 2005 and July 2010.
After claims by ABC News in August 2009 that Lithuania had been the site of a secret CIA prison, the Lithuanian Parliament (the Seimas) began investigations. On 5 November 2009, the Seimas passed a resolution which mandated the Committee on National Security and Defence (CNSD) to conduct an investigation into the transport and detention of CIA detainees on Lithuanian territory.
The Findings of the Parliamentary Investigation, published in December 2009, revealed for the first time five new flights into Lithuania, by four separate suspected CIA aircraft, between February 2003 and March 2006.
Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes has investigated European – and especially Portuguese – complicity in CIA rendition flights. In 2006, she secured access to flight logs to and from Guantanamo Bay, revealing 94 flights by a range of military and civilian aircraft, including some of those known to be involved in the CIA programme.
The data also demonstrated that many of the prisoner transports went through Portuguese territory. Further analysis of the role played by Portugal in the rendition flight network can be found in Reprieve’s submission to the Portuguese Inquiry on Rendition in April 2008, as well as in Reprieve’s January 2008 report Journey of Death.
On 3 July 2008, following revelations that two rendition flights carrying detainees stopped over in Diego Garcia, the Foreign Secretary David Miliband submitted a written statement to Parliament. This statement was accompanied by the publication of a list of 391 flights landing in UK territory, to which the FCO had been alerted regarding possible involvement in the renditions programme. This list was compiled from a range of sources:
- All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Extraordinary Rendition
- Intelligence and Security Committee
- Scottish National Party (SNP)
- Fava Investigation
- ITN journalists
- Sunday Times journalist
- UK delegate to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe