Viewing cable 07REYKJAVIK313, Icelandic MFA "confirms" CIA detainee flights through
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|07REYKJAVIK313||2007-10-30 17:05||2011-01-13 05:05||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Reykjavik|
VZCZCXRO3205 OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHRK #0313 3031738 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 301738Z OCT 07 FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3482 INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L REYKJAVIK 000313 SIPDIS SIPDIS DEPT FOR EUR/NB, EUR/PPD, L/HHR, L/PM E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2017 TAGS: PTER PREL PHUM NATO KPAO IC SUBJECT: Icelandic MFA "confirms" CIA detainee flights through Iceland, wants searches of future flights Ref: Reykjavik 203 Classified By: Amb. Carol van Voorst for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). ¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Iceland's Minister for Foreign Affairs told the press on October 27 that an internal ministry review had confirmed that aircraft linked to CIA rendition operations had transited Iceland on a number of occasions since 2001, including as recently as July 2007. The Minister noted that it was impossible to determine whether such flights had carried detainees when landing in Iceland or entering the country's airspace, and said that in the future she wants closer inspection or searches of aircraft "known" to be linked to CIA operations should they land in Iceland. The opposition leader argues that the MFA should apologize for Iceland's "responsibility" in the matter, while muddling the question of blanket NATO overflight clearances for military aircraft and the rendition flight issue. The rest of the government has kept silent on the issue, though Post expects the Prime Minister to be forced to comment in the coming days. Post believes the FM's intent is to mollify those skeptical of U.S. actions while also -- by raising the possibility of boarding and search operations -- signaling that she wishes to avoid any incidents that could irreparably damage the bilateral relationship. END SUMMARY. ¶2. (U) Icelandic Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir reported in a radio interview on October 27 that aircraft suspected of operating CIA rendition flights had transited Iceland "a number of times" from September 2001 on, including one case as recent as July of this year. She cautioned, however, that it is not possible to determine whether or not there were prisoners on board any of the flights in question. The FM's comments are the result of an internal ministry review she ordered in the wake of Swiss Parliamentarian Dick Marty's most recent report on alleged rendition flights earlier this summer (reftel). Gisladottir added that she would like the Government of Iceland to look into options for closer scrutiny of future flights by CIA-linked aircraft, including onboard searches by border police and customs officers. In comments reported by leading daily Morgunbladid on October 29, the FM added that it would be "very grave if prisoners have been moved through Icelandic airspace for the purpose of torture, as this would be inconsistent with international law and Iceland's obligations." ¶3. (U) In response to the FM's statements, Left-Green party leader Steingrimur Sigfusson was quick to demand that Gisladottir apologize for the Icelandic government's "responsibility" in the matter. In so doing, Sigfusson referred to an October 2001 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in which NATO allies agreed to invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. Sigfusson, pointing to this decision as having "authorized" rendition flights, garbled the distinction between the military operations specified by the NAC and the civilian aircraft described in the Marty report as well as the Icelandic MFA's findings. This is an all-too-common mistake in commentary here on the matter, though state radio, in a follow-up piece on October 28, gave the first clear explanation of military and civilian overflight and landing permissions in the press in recent memory. ¶4. (SBU) Public reaction has otherwise been muted, with no other politicians commenting on the topic and no other media outlets reporting on the issue. However, Prime Minister Haarde has been out of the country for most of the last week, leaving open the possibility of further questions upon his return. Additionally, FM Gisladottir will present the annual Foreign Ministry report to the Althingi (parliament) on November 8, posing another opportunity for discussion on the matter. ¶5. (C) Comment: The Foreign Minister's intent is fairly clear: she is trying to satisfy those in her party and elsewhere deeply opposed to any perception of Icelandic involvement in prisoner transfers, while sending an unambiguous message that this new government intends to challenge any future suspect flights. van Voorst