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Cablegate: Icelandic Mfa "Confirms" Cia Detainee Flights Through

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

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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