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Cablegate: Icelandic Mfa Announces Inquiry Into Alleged

VZCZCXRO2349
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHRK #0203/01 1941644
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131644Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3368
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 REYKJAVIK 000203

SIPDIS

NOFORN

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/NB, EUR/PPD, L/HHR, L/PM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2017
TAGS: PTER PREL PHUM NATO KPAO IC
SUBJECT: Icelandic MFA announces inquiry into alleged
CIA detainee flights


Classified By: DCM Neil Klopfenstein for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Iceland's Minister for Foreign
Affairs announced on June 27 that her ministry will
conduct an inquiry into allegations of CIA detainee
flights transiting Iceland. The announcement comes in
response to the June 27 Council of Europe discussion
of Special Rapporteur Dick Marty's latest report, and
statements by Iceland's leading opposition
parliamentarian, who attended the session in
Strasbourg. MFA officials have tried to minimize the
inquiry's significance in conversations with Post,
describing it as "an exercise in transparency" and an
attempt to take the issue away from the opposition.
They report that the inquiry's form and scope are
still yet to be defined, though Iceland's ambassador
in Strasbourg has approached the COE Human Rights and
Legal Affairs Committee for assistance. Post has not
been officially approached by the MFA on the topic; we
would expect any such inquiry closer to the opening of
the new parliamentary session in October. End
Summary.

2. (U) On June 27, Icelandic state television's
evening news covered the Council of Europe (COE)
Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) session on COE Special
Rapporteur Dick Marty's most recent report on alleged
CIA activities in COE member states. The report
prominently featured comments by Left-Green Party
Chair Steingrimur Sigfusson, who was in attendance.
Sigfusson, the head of Iceland's largest opposition
party, said that while he was not surprised by most of
the report's findings, he was nonetheless concerned
about the finding that NATO had purportedly authorized
such measures in October 2001. He called for the
Icelandic Government to report on Iceland's role in
any such NATO decision.

3. (U) In response, Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun
Gisladottir (traveling in Africa) instructed the MFA
to issue a press release that evening announcing that
in light of the report's findings, she had decided
that "landings by certain aircraft at Keflavik and/or
Reykjavik Airports should be taken under closer
examination." The press release further stated that
the Icelandic Government had fully answered all
questions presented to it by the Marty inquiry, and
that the MFA "has no knowledge of any flights operated
by the U.S. intelligence services carrying prisoners
or suspected terrorists in Icelandic airspace or at
Keflavik Airport. The U.S. Government has never
requested overflight or landing permission for such
aircraft."

4. (C) MFA Counselor Finnur Thor Birgisson, who
drafted the press release for the Ministry's Political
Department, told PolOff on June 29 that things "are
still at a very early stage" regarding the MFA's plans
for looking into the issue. MFA Defense Department
Counselor Fridrik Jonsson, also present at the
meeting, was quick to add that the announcement was
mostly for domestic consumption as a move to "clip the
wings" of LG Chair Sigfusson before he had an
opportunity to create further problems for the
Minister. Birgisson agreed, saying the inquiry is the
Ministry's effort to be seen as transparent on the
matter. Questions may eventually be directed to the
USG, but for now "the important part is to be seen as
doing something."

5. (C) The MFA's Counselor for Human Rights reiterated
this message in a meeting with PolOff on July 3,
describing the ministry's effort as "an exercise in
transparency." She drew PolOff's attention to the
specific language in the press release ("examination"
vice "investigation"), underscoring that the MFA had
no plans nor authority to conduct a formal
investigation in a legal sense. She further reported
that she had just finished speaking to Iceland's
ambassador in Strasbourg per FM Gisladottir's
instructions to approach the PACE Legal Affairs and
Human Rights Committee for assistance in formulating
the inquiry. The MFA's impression is that the
committee's handling of the matter thus far has been

REYKJAVIK 00000203 002 OF 002


"puzzling," and the Ministry does not hold high
expectations that it will get much useful information
from these discussions. (The FM's Political Advisor
noted in the press on July 12 that the MFA did not
expect a substantive response in Strasbourg until
September, "after people's summer holidays.")

6. (C) Post has not been formally approached by the
MFA on the matter thus far, and MFA officials have
said they do not know if or when that might happen.
The Icelandic Government last asked for a formal U.S.
Government response on the topic in fall 2005, and
Prime Minister Geir Haarde (then Foreign Minister) has
on multiple occasions declared himself satisfied with
Secretary Rice's statement regarding detainee issues

SIPDIS
on December 5, 2005 (reftels). Embassy Reykjavik
last received a press inquiry on this issue in October
2006, at which time we declined comment. Press
reporting so far has been straightforward, though an
editorial cartoon in leading daily Morgunbladid on
July 4 lampooned the Foreign Minister's intent to
conduct the inquiry, depicting her at the airport with
a pair of binoculars looking for planes with "prisoner
stripes."

7. (C/NF) Comment: FM Gisladottir is in a difficult
situation stemming from her party's past criticism of
the GOI on the issue of detainee flights. During the
campaign for the May 2007 parliamentary elections, she
committed herself and her party to transparency and
cooperation with the Althingi (parliament) on foreign
affairs and as such will need to demonstrate an effort
to investigate the issue. Her quick decision to
announce a further investigation of alleged detainee
flights is a direct result of this pressure from her
erstwhile allies in opposition, the Left-Greens. Her
announcement will effectively quash the issue until
the Althingi comes back into session in October. At
that point, however, opposition parliamentarians will
likely use the issue to snipe at the government and
push for some results from the inquiry. We anticipate
that press inquiries to the Embassy, if any, will ask
us to comment on the allegations in the COE reports as
they pertain to Iceland and to outline our response to
any Icelandic Government query on the matter. In such
an event Post intends to coordinate our response with
appropriate Washington offices.

Klopfenstein

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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