Shannon Watch Article - Private Companies Profiting from Torture Flights

A New York business dispute between two aviation companies has revealed how the U.S. contracted out their illegal and inhumane renditions to a network of private American companies. Court files show how these private contractors flew between the US, Shannon and other foreign airports, Guantanamo Bay and landing points near secret CIA-run prisons.

The companies included DynCorp, a leading government contractor that secretly oversaw a fleet of luxury jets, and Richmor Aviation. The latter operated the rendition plane N85VM/N227SV which landed in Shannon quite a bit between 2001 and 2005 and was involved in the rendition of an Egyptian cleric, Abu Omar. In addition the Seatle Times reports that

On Nov. 8, 2002, a Richmor Gulfstream, Tail No. N85VM, took off for Shannon Airport in Ireland, then to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, on a flight that paralleled the arrest that month of USS Cole bombing suspect Abd al-Nashiri.

It was the first of a run of secret long-distance flights by the Gulfstream between 2002 and 2005 that paralleled the suspected movements of captured al-Qaida and other terrorist leaders who vanished into CIA-run black prisons after their arrests following the Sept. 11 attacks.

The article explains that after landing in Dubai, the Gulfstream flew on to Kabul, Afghanistan. Al-Nashiri was taken to the "Salt Pit," a CIA-run prison northwest of the Afghan capital where another detainee died in U.S. custody that same month. The jet then headed back to Dulles Airport (outside Washington) via Dubai and London.

The court files reveal that the flight cost $198,000, including $8,000 for extra crew members, $800 for ground transport, $250 for landing fees and $1,500 for catering.

Some of these service costs are no doubt included in the "profits" that Shannon Airport has claimed to be making from U.S. government business. The airport facilities were used repeatedly over the years by private companies engaged in illegal and immoral activities. Aviation companies like Richmor, fixed based operators, caterers and others made money from kidnapping and torture.

The court case has also disclosed the identities of some of the corporations involved in the rendition programme for the first time, along with the names of some of the executives who knew the purpose of the flights. Lets hope we see many of them prosecuted.

Newspaper articles relating to the case

Shannonwatch have checked dates mentioned in the last of these (Seattle Times report) and we have confirmed the details based on our own flight logs.

See also

Reprieve Press Release at