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December 6, 2022

US court case confirms CIA rendition flights to Bucharest

The costs and routes of numerous CIA flights, part of the extraordinary rendition programme, have been revealed in court documents filed as part of a New York business dispute between two aviation companies, Mediafax reported, quoting ‘The Washington Post.’

The documents reveal that CIA entrusted part of its operations to small aviation firms. According to the same source, several flights were made to Bucharest, but also to Baku, Cairo, Djibouti, Islamabad and Tripoli, by the company Sportsflight. For the flights, the company secured a plane from Richmor Aviation. Richmor eventually sued Sportsflight for breach of contract.

The court records do not clearly specify who was aboard the planes. But in several cases, the flights overlap with the arrests and transport of some of the most prominent terrorism suspects captured after the September 11, 2001 US attacks.

The disclosures are likely to reignite debates about Romania’s actual involvement in the CIA rendition programme. Reports that Romania and Poland and other European countries hosted secret CIA detention facilities and were involved in the rendition programme first emerged in 2005. The Council of Europe began a probe into the allegations, but Romanian officials have repeatedly denied ever hosting such detention facilities or knowingly allowing rendition flights from and over the country’s territory.

Accusations re-surfaced in May this year, after it was reported that information that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden had been gathered in CIA detention facilities in Romania and Poland.

Commenting on the new reports, Liberal MEP Norica Nicolai, who coordinated a parliamentary inquiry into CIA prisons, told RFI that the information “was slightly mixed up and totally irrelevant. “I can accept that there is an investigation in the US in relation to the CIA’s contracting private flights for detainee transfers, but this does not prove anything about Romania,” she said.

Nicolai added that even the parliamentary inquiry did not rule out the possibility of prisoner transfers via Romanian airports, but only the existence of any secret prisons on national territory.

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