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Newly Released Documents Shed Light on CIA’s African Rendition Network

LONDON - Documents released by Reprieve and New York University’s Global Justice Clinic have shed new light on the CIA’s African rendition network. The documents show how planes contracted by the US government for rendition missions used Djibouti as a hub.

The documents support a complaint by a Yemeni national, Mohammed al-Asad, that he was snatched from his family home in Tanzania and detained in several secret CIA locations in Djibouti and Afghanistan. Mr al-Asad’s case is currently being considered by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It comes at a time of renewed scrutiny of the US secret prison programme, owing to the imminent declassification of part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture. Al Jazeera last week revealed that the Senate’s investigation concluded that several people had been secretly detained in Djibouti.

Reprieve has uncovered legal and contractual documents, which show how a group of US companies (including Computer Sciences Corporation, DynCorp Systems and Solutions, Richmor Aviation and First Flight) worked together to provide support to the CIA’s torture programme. Matching invoice and contract numbers show that several trips through Djibouti in 2003 and 2004 were undertaken on behalf of the US government with State Department authorization. According to court filings by contractors involved in the flights, trips performed on these contracts were used for access to Guantánamo Bay and “assorted rendition missions”.

Aside from its role as a rendition hub, Djibouti has also gained prominence as a base for US targeted killing missions. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti has been described by The Economist as “the most important base for drone operations outside the war zone of Afghanistan”. From Lemonnier, American drones take off to carry out strikes in Yemen that have been heavily criticized by the international human rights community.


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Mr al-Asad’s case is the first of its kind in the African human rights system. After being held in Djibouti he was transferred to Afghanistan and abused there for over a year. He was subsequently released and has never been charged with a terrorism-related crime.

Kevin Lo, CSR Advocate at Reprieve, said: “These documents provide further evidence of how US corporations played a crucial role in the CIA’s torture network, rendering people to torture around the world far from public scrutiny and even further from the rule of law. Corporate complicity by the British companies must also be brought to light. BT has refused to answer important questions over its role in facilitating the devastating US covert drone programme waged in Yemen from a secretive base in Djibouti. Corporations cannot pretend to be ignorant of how their products result in the deaths of innocent civilians."

Margaret Satterthwaite of NYU’s Global Justice Clinic said: “These contracts and Reprieve’s analysis add to the growing documentation of Djibouti's role in the torture programme. The evidence has become overwhelming that Djibouti was a hub for CIA renditions.”


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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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