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Rendition Circuit: 18-20 December 2001

 

Rendition of Mohamed el-Zery and Ahmed Agiza, Sweden to Egypt

 

On 18-19 December 2001, Mohamed el-Zery and Ahmed Agiza were rendered from Sweden to Egypt, where they were detained and tortured for several months before being brought to trial. This rendition was conducted with the full knowledge of the Swedish authorities: after rejecting the men's asylum applications, they arrested el-Zery and Agiza and drove them to Stockholm-Bromma Airport. Once there, the Swedish Security Police (S?po) handed them over to US and Egyptian officials who had arrived in Stockholm that day, on the CIA-owned Gulfstream V jet with the registration N379P. The renditions team took control of the two detainees, prepared them for transfer using the standard modus operandi (see below), and loaded them on board the aircraft.

N379P was at that point owned by Premier Executive Transport Services, a shell company for the CIA. Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of Boeing, Inc. which provided flight planning services for multiple rendition circuits, arranged the logistical aspects of this rendition.

 

 

Analysis

 

N379P left its home base of Johnston County Airport (KJNX) just after midnight on 18 December 2001, and flew to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD). After stopping for about 90 minutes, it flew to Cairo (HECA), where it picked up two Egyptian agents. In the mid-afternoon of 18 December, the aircraft took off from Cairo and flew direct to Stockholm-Bromma Airport (ESSB), landing there at 19:43 GMT (just before 9pm local time).

Investigators have located two invoices addressed to Jeppesen Dataplan, one from Luftfartsverket, the public entity that provides air navigation services in Sweden, and one from the Swedish Civil Aviation Administration. These invoices demonstrate that Jeppesen organised the logistical aspects of the rendition, and required the company to pay landing, navigation, emission and passenger charges. Flight plans submitted to Eurocontrol for the flights from Cairo to Stockholm and back also contain Jeppesen's unique originator code, KSFOXLDI, proving that the company filed the plans on behalf of the CIA. The flight plans use the special designator STS/STATE, thus identifying the aircraft as diplomatic or other government, one category below flights carrying Heads of State.

An investigation carried out by the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman in 2004 and 2005, in order to establish 'what occurred at Bromma airport and the manner in which the expulsion of the two Egyptians was carried out', has established the method of treatment during the rendition of the two detainees during the preparation for the flight and the flight itself. This included both men being subjected to having their clothes cut to pieces, full cavity searches, the insertion of anal suppositories, being dressed in diapers and overalls, hooded, handcuffed and strapped to a mattress on the aircraft. Throughout, the security team did not speak at all, communicating instead with hand signals.

Account of Agiza and el-Zery's rendition (source: Mats Melin, Sweden's Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman)

Just before 9 p.m. the American plane touched down. Officer Y went to speak to the occupants of the plane. These included, in addition to its crew, a security team of seven or eight, among them a doctor and two Egyptian officials. Officer Y informed the American officials that A. [Agiza] and E.Z. [el-Zery] were waiting in the vehicles parked in front of the police station and the Americans were taken to them.

The security team, all of whom were disguised by hoods around their heads, then went up to the vehicles in which A. and E.Z. were sitting. One of the men was taken first to the police station by the team. Inside the station, in a small changing room, the American officials conducted what they had referred to as a security check. According to reports, a doctor was present in the changing room. When the check had been completed, the second man was sent for and the same procedure repeated.

The inquiry has revealed that this security check comprised at least the following. A and E.Z. were subjected to a body search, their clothes were cut to pieces and placed in bags, their hair was thoroughly examined, as were their oral cavities and ears. In addition they were handcuffed and their ankles fettered, each was then dressed in an overall and photographed. Finally loose hoods without holes for their eyes were placed over their heads. A and E.Z. were then taken out of the police station in bare feet and led to the aircraft.

In addition, K.J. has reported that E.Z. said that the security team had forced him to lean forwards in the changing room and he had then felt some objects being inserted into his anal cavity. Afterwards he was equipped with a diaper. According to K.J., E.Z. then felt calmer, as if “all the muscles in his body were slack”. E.Z. was, however, fully conscious for the entire journey. K.J. has added that E.Z. was blindfolded and placed in a hood and also forced to lie in an uncomfortable position on board the aircraft.

Officer Y has stated that “he has the impression” that he asked two of his fellow-officers to keep an eye on the two security checks so that they had “some grasp as it were” of what was going on. There was only room for a very few people in the changing room. While the security checks were taking place, Y himself was standing some distance away and could not see what was happening. The two Security Police employees, a police officer and a civilian interpreter, who were with the security team in the changing room, have stated that they did not see suppositories being administered to A. and E.Z. or diapers being used. Their information reveals, however, that the changing room was very crowded and so they had difficulty in observing what was going on for the entire time. The Security Police officer says that because it was so crowded he left the changing room after only a short time. He did not, therefore, even see the garments being cut to pieces. The interpreter says that he was present for the entire time but that when E.Z. had been undressed he turned away for about 20 seconds. When he looked back, E.Z. was in principle fully clothed. According to both witnesses, the security team conducted the security inspection rapidly, efficiently and professionally. The members of the team did not speak to each other but communicated using hand signals. Nor did any of the Security Police officials in attendance at Bromma state that they had noticed or been informed that A. and E.Z. had been administered suppositories or equipped with diapers.

The two men were then taken to the aircraft. Just before 10 p.m. the plane took off from Bromma for the flight to Egypt. Two representatives of the Security Police were on board the plane: officer Y and the civilian interpreter. The original intention had been for three people to accompany the plane to Egypt but late in the day they were informed by the captain of the plane that there was only room for two from the Swedish Security Police. A. and E.Z. were placed at the rear of the plane, each lying on a mattress to which they were strapped. Their handcuffs, ankle fetters and hoods were not removed during the flight to Egypt.

Less than an hour later, just before 10pm local time (20:48 GMT), N379P took off again, this time with el-Zery and Agiza on board. It flew back to Cairo, arriving in the early hours of 19 December. According to the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman, 'A and EZ disembarked and were received by Egyptian officials. They were then driven off in a transit bus. At this point the Security Police officers considered that the enforcement had been completed.'

N379P stayed on the ground in Cairo for over 24 hours, before flying to Glasgow Prestwick (EGPK) in the morning of 20 December. After an hour's refuelling, the aircraft then returned to Washington and then Johnston County, arriving home late in the evening of 20 December 2001.

 

 

 

Rendition Research Team - © University of Kent
University of Westminster University of Kent E.S.R.C