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Rendition Circuit: 25-29 May 2004

 

Rendition of Khaled el-Masri, Afghanistan to Albania

 

On 28 May 2004, Khaled el-Masri was rendered from Afghanistan, where he had been held for four months in a secret CIA prison outside Kabul known as the 'Salt Pit', to Albania, where he was handed over to Albanian security forces who put him on a passenger flight to Germany. The rendition from Afghanistan to Albania was undertaken onboard a Gulfstream III jet with registration number N982RK. This aircraft had been contracted by the CIA for particular rendition flights, under its prime contract with DynCorp/Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), and was operated by Richmor Aviation, an operating company at the heart of the CIA's rendition programme. Less than two weeks later, it was back in Afghanistan, and involved in the aborted rendition of Laid Saidi (who had been held in the same prison as el-Masri) to Tunisia.

 

 

Analysis

N982RK left its home base of Columbia County Airport (K1B1) in the evening of 25 May 2004, flying to Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD), where it stopped overnight. Late in the morning of 26 May, it then flew cross-Atlantic, landing in Shannon, Ireland (EINN) in the early evening. The aircraft stayed on the ground in Shannon for less than an hour while it refuelled, before flying to Larnaca, Cyprus (LCLK), landing at 22:55 GMT. The aircraft's crew and the rendition team stayed overnight in Cyprus, where a billing document for the circuit shows that they paid for 'VIP services' from a servicing company at the airport (Skylink), as well as transport to and from the Golden Bay Beach Hotel. The next day, the aircraft left Cyprus in the evening and flew direct to Kabul, Afghanistan (OAKB), landing in the early hours of 28 May.

On 28 May, Khaled el-Masri was blindfolded, handcuffed and led to a shipping container, where he was kept until the aircraft landed. He was then led onboard and chained to a seat. The aircraft took off at 03:45 GMT, and flew direct to Kucova, Albania (LAKV), landing at 10:06 GMT. Here, el-Masri was taken off the aircraft and placed in a vehicle, which drove him into the mountains where he was handed over to Albanian police. N982RK, meanwhile, stayed on the ground in Albania for less than 20 mintues before flying to Sarajevo (LQSA) for a refuelling stop, and then to Prague (LKPR), where the crew stopped overnight for some 'rest and relaxation'.

The aircraft left Prague in the morning of 29 May, flying back to Washington via Keflavik, Iceland (BIKF), and then onto Columbia County, landing in the evening of 29 May 2005.

 

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