These 54 Governments Secretly Supported the CIA’s Kidnap-and-Torture Program

Thursday, February 07, 2013

The United States’ extreme reaction to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was shared by many of the world’s governments, with more than a quarter of them supporting the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) extraordinary rendition program either because they believed in it or because they just wanted to stay on the good side of the United States government.


Rendition is the practice of bypassing due process to seize a suspect in a foreign country and transport him to another country where there is a warrant for his arrest.  Extraordinary rendition is the practice of seizing a suspect and transporting him to another country for interrogation, even though he is not wanted for a crime. 


A new report from the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), a New York-based human rights organization, claims that at least 54 countries co-operated with the CIA’s kidnapping, detaining and torturing operation.


OSJI noted that the administration of President George W. Bush was responsible “for authorizing human rights violations associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, and the impunity that they have enjoyed to date remains a matter of significant concern.”


However, the human rights group also emphasized that the rendition program “could not have been implemented without the active participation of foreign governments. These governments too must be held accountable.”


Here are the 54 nations that aided the CIA:


  1. Afghanistan—hosted at least three CIA prisons where suspects were tortured and abused.
  2. Albania—allowed its military airbase to be used to receive Khaled El-Masri, a German car salesman whom the CIA kidnapped after mistaking him for someone else and then released into Albania.
  3. Algeria—permitted the use of its airports for CIA kidnapping operations and probably received at least one victim from CIA custody.
  4. Australia—implicated in the kidnapping of Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib, who was taken to Egypt and tortured. He was later transferred to Guantánamo, before being released without charge three years later.
  5. Austria—permitted the use of its airspace for CIA kidnapping flights and may have cooperated in the abduction of two Austrian residents.
  6. Azerbaijan—permitted the use of its airports for CIA flights and arrested a Saudi citizen, Ahmed Muhammed al-Darbi, who is currently incarcerated at Guantánamo.
  7. Belgium—allowed the use of its airports for CIA kidnapping flights, including one that transported Canadian Maher Arar, who was taken to Syria to be tortured.
  8. Bosnia-Herzegovina—allowed the United States to use two military bases to house prisoners. It is not clear whether they were run by the CIA or the Department of Defense.
  9. Canada—provided incorrect information about Canadian citizen Maher Arar that led to his seizure at JFK Airport in New York City and subsequent torture in Syria. He was later returned to Canada. The CIA extraordinary rendition program also made 74 flights to Canada.
  10. Croatia—allowed its airports to be used for CIA kidnapping flights.
  11. Cyprus—allowed its airports to be used 57 times by the CIA, included for flights that held prisoners.
  12. Czech Republic—allowed its airports to be used for CIA flights.
  13. Denmark—allowed CIA planes involved in the extraordinary rendition program to stop at Danish airports 45 times.
  14. Djibouti—allowed the United States to use a military base, Camp Lemonnier, in its territory, to hold and secretly interrogate detainees.
  15. Egypt—was the most popular destination for suspects who have been seized by U.S. authorities going back to the administration of President Bill Clinton. Dozens of prisoners were sent by the U.S. to be interrogated, imprisoned and tortured by the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
  16. Ethiopia—hosted the detention and interrogation of at least three prisoners, at least one of whom, Ali Isse, was tortured with electric shocks by Ethiopian interrogators.
  17. Finland—allowed its airports to be used by 150 flights associated with the CIA kidnapping and interrogation program
  18. Gambia—at the request of the CIA, captured, detained and interrogated three suspects, two of whom were then sent to Guantánamo.
  19. Georgia—under pressure from the United States, captured and suspects and turned them over to the CIA.
  20. Germany—participated in the interrogation of Muhammad Zammar while he was in custody in Syria, Abdel Halim Khafagy while he was in Bosnia, and Murat Kurnaz at Guantánamo. CIA-operated aircraft also made about 336 stopovers in Germany.
  21. Greece—allowed its airports to be used by CIA-operated aircraft 64 times, including for the transfer of eight suspects who had been seized by the U.S.
  22. Hong Kong—captured, detained and interrogated Libyan citizen Sami al-Saadi (Abu Munthir) before transferring him and his family to Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya.
  23. Iceland—allowed its airports to be used more than 67 times by CIA planes.
  24. Indonesia—at the request of the CIA, arrested two suspects and sent them to Egypt and Jordan to be tortured. A third suspect, Omar al-Faruq, was also arrested and turned over to the CIA.
  25. Iran—as part of a detainee exchange deal, turned over fifteen individuals to the government of Afghanistan, at least six of whom were imprisoned secretly by the CIA.
  26. Ireland—allowed its airports to be used 147 times by CIA-operated aircraft, including flights that were used for the transfer of kidnapped suspects.
  27. Italy—allowed its airports to be used 46 times by CIA-operated flights. Italian intelligence officers participated in the CIA abduction of Abu Omar, who was sent to Egypt to be tortured. In connection with this case, in November 2009, Italy became the only nation in the world to hand down human rights convictions relating to the CIA’s secret detention and extraordinary rendition program. In September 2012, Italy’s highest court upheld the convictions of 22 CIA agents, one U.S. Air Force officer and two Italian intelligence agents.
  28. Jordan—interrogated and severely tortured at least 15 prisoners who were handed over by the CIA. Also captured one suspect for the CIA and held others in transit on behalf of the CIA.
  29. Kenya—arrested and handed over to the CIA two suspects, one of whom was beaten by Kenyan police being the handover.
  30. Libya—detained, interrogated and tortured at least eleven prisoners who were delivered to the Muammar Gaddafi regime by the CIA. Anti-Gaddafi dissident Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (also known as Abdul Hakim Belhadj) was seized in Bangkok and tortured by CIA officials before being sent to Libya, where he was interrogated by British agents. He later served as a military leader of the rebel forces who overthrew Gaddafi.
  31. Lithuania—hosted a secret CIA prison for “high-value detainees.”
  32. Macedonia—captured, interrogated and abused German citizen Khaled El-Masri before turning him over to the CIA. It was later determined was that El-Masri’s case was one of mistaken identity.
  33. Malawi—cooperated in the CIA capture, detention and abuse of six individuals, five of whom were later released in Sudan when it was determined that there was no evidence linking them to Al-Qaeda.
  34. Malaysia—cooperated with the CIA in the detention of a Libyan couple, Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq (Abdul Hakim Belhadj) and Fatima Bouchar, who were sent on to Gaddafi’s Libya.
  35. Mauritania—captured and interrogated at least three individuals before turning them over to the CIA.
  36. Morocco—allowed the CIA to build a prison to hold Al-Qaeda suspects and also held them in another facility. The CIA also turned over suspects to be tortured by Moroccan authorities, including, in a particularly notorious case, Binyam Mohamed, whose Moroccan interrogators broke his bones while beating him, sliced his genitals, and poured hot liquid onto his penis while cutting it. Mohamed later spent five years at Guantánamo before being released.
  37.  Pakistan—operated a secret prison in cooperation with the United States. Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf admitted to handing over 369 suspects to U.S. representatives, most of whom were transported to secret facilities in Afghanistan and/or to Guantánamo. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also participated in the capture, interrogation and torture of suspects who were then transferred to the CIA.
  38. Poland—hosted a secret CIA prison. It was in Poland that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who claims to have organized the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, was waterboarded 183 times.
  39. Portugal—allowed its airports to be used for 91 stopovers as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.
  40. Romania—hosted a secret CIA prison and permitted the use of its airports as part of the CIA program.
  41. Saudi Arabia—imprisoned individuals before and after they were kidnapped or detained by the CIA.
  42. Somalia—provided territory and guards for individuals detained by the CIA. The CIA also hired Somali warlords to kidnap suspected militants. Up to seventeen such suspects were seized in Mogadishu alone, although most of them turned out to be innocent.
  43. South Africa—although the details are murky, appears to have allowed the U.S. to operate freely in the country in order to capture Saud Menon, a Pakistani wanted in connection with the murder of U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl.
  44. Spain—permitted its airports to be used as “staging points” for flights involving the illegal transfer of suspects.
  45. Sri Lanka—allowed at least one CIA flight to land, probably in connection with the capture of Riduan Isamuddin (Hambali), who was known as “the Osama bin Laden of Southeast Asia.”
  46. Sweden—allowed CIA operatives to seize two Egyptians asylum seekers, Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zery, who were then sent to Egypt, where they were tortured.
  47. Syria—served as a popular destination to which the CIA sent suspects to be interrogated and tortured.
  48. Thailand—hosted a secret CIA prison were detainees were tortured and allowed its airports to be used for extraordinary rendition flights.
  49. Turkey—captured Nashwan abd al-Razzaq abd al-Baqi (Abd al-Hadial-Iraqi, an Iraqi citizen accused of being an Al-Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, and turning him over to the CIA.
  50. United Arab Emirates—captured and tortured individuals before turning them over to the CIA.
  51. United Kingdom—assisted in the kidnapping of suspects, shared intelligence with the CIA, participated in the secret interrogation of suspects and allowed about its airports to be used about 170 times for CIA-operated flights. Glasgow’s Prestwick airport was known as a crucial “staging point” in the CIA extraordinary rendition operation.
  52. Uzbekistan—known for gruesome methods of torture, received prisoners from the CIA to be interrogated.
  53. Yemen—at the request of the United States, detained individuals who had been kidnapped by the CIA.
  54. Zimbabwe—detained kidnapped suspects in transit to centers in other countries.

-David Wallechinsky


To Learn More:

Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition (Open Society Justice Initiative) (pdf)

CIA Rendition: More Than a Quarter of Countries 'Offered Covert Support' (by Ian Cobain, The Guardian)

More Than 50 Countries Helped the CIA Outsource Torture (by Spencer Ackerman, Wired)

Human Rights Court Concludes that CIA Tortured and Sodomized an Innocent German (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Italy’s Highest Court Upholds CIA Kidnapping Convictions (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Billing Dispute Opens Unexpected Window on Secret CIA Kidnapping Flights (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)


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