"U.S. accused of 'torture flights'"

The London Sunday Times reported yesterday that the U.S. government has a special plane devoted to the extradition of suspects in the war on terrorism.

By Mark Follman
November 16, 2004 1:01AM (UTC)
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The London Sunday Times reported yesterday that the United States government has a special plane devoted to the extradition of suspects in the war on terrorism to countries where they are likely to be interrogated using torture.

"An executive jet is being used by the American intelligence agencies to fly terrorist suspects to countries that routinely use torture in their prisons.


"The movements of the Gulfstream 5 leased by agents from the United States defence department and the CIA are detailed in confidential logs obtained by The Sunday Times which cover more than 300 flights. Countries with poor human rights records to which the Americans have delivered prisoners include Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan, according to the files. The logs have prompted allegations from critics that the agency is using such regimes to carry out 'torture by proxy' -- a charge denied by the American government."

The report, based in part on eyewitness accounts, traces a number of cases dating back to 2001, including those of suspects who were nabbed in Sweeden, Karachi and Jakarta. Witnesses claimed to have seen the same Gulfstream jet in question, and described rough treatment of prisoners, "whose faces were masked by hoods" and, in one account, who were "forcibly given sedatives by suppository."

The two prisoners extradited from Sweeden to Egypt in December 2001, at least one of whom was later cleared, claimed they were beaten and tortured with electric shocks to their genitals. The report also notes a harrowing treatment that may have been used in Uzbekistan -- one country the Bush administration has aligned itself with under the banner of the global war on terror.


"Among the countries where prisoners have been sent by America is Uzbekistan, a close ally and a dictatorship whose secret police are notorious for their interrogation methods, including the alleged boiling of prisoners. The Gulfstream made at least seven trips to the Uzbek capital.

"The details bolster claims by Craig Murray, the former British ambassador, that America has sent terrorist suspects from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan to be interrogated by torture.

"In a memo, whose disclosure last month contributed to Murray's removal, he told Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, that the CIA station chief in Tashkent had 'readily acknowledged torture was deployed in obtaining intelligence'."

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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