A New York-based human rights organization said in a new report, that Sri Lanka was among 54 countries that have either hosted secret prisons or helped in the transport or torture of terrorist suspects as part of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) rendition and black site torture programme.
The Open Society Justice Initiative said the Sri Lankan government in 2003 permitted the use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations.
“Court documents indicate that at least one flight operated by Richmor Aviation (a company that operated flights for the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program) landed in Sri Lanka in 2003. The documents show that between August 12 and 15, 2003, a Richmor flight registered as N85VM took off from Washington, D.C., and stopped in Bangkok before making another stop at Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike international airport in Colombo, and then flying on to Kabul, Dubai, and Shannon airport in Ireland. That flight coincided in time with the capture of Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali) in Bangkok in 2003. Isamuddin spent the next three years in secret CIA prisons before ultimately being transferred as a “high value detainee” to Guantánamo Bay in September 2006, where he remains detained. There have been no known judicial cases or investigations in Sri Lanka relating to its participation in CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations,” the Open Society Justice Initiative said in it’s report.
The report said that following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) commenced a secret detention program under which suspected terrorists were held in CIA prisons, also known as “black sites,” outside the United States, where they were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” that involved torture and other abuse.
At about the same time, the CIA gained expansive authority to engage in “extraordinary rendition,” of a detainee to the custody of a foreign government for purposes of detention and interrogation.
The sites and rendition programme were set up under former president George W Bush for the CIA to interrogate – often using torture – terrorist suspects captured abroad.