Documents regarding post-9/11 prisoner transport flights released

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Friday, September 2, 2011

During a court case between two US charter aircraft companies, documents have been released detailing flights chartered by the US government from private sector companies in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to transport prisoners suspected of links to terrorism.

The documents, totalling more than 1,700 pages, were released as part of a court case dating to 2007 between Sportsflight and Richmor Aviation. The case concerned over US$1.15 million Richmor claimed it was owed by Sportsflight to cover costs associated with flights operated for the US government by DynCorp, another company involved in what have been dubbed rendition flights. Both companies referenced the practice in their legal arguments.

Details within the files, including flights of aircraft, correspond to known flights made as part of the program; for example, one file matches the transportation of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric, to Cairo, where Omar claimed he was tortured. Another matches the transportation of Encep Nuraman, an Indonesian terrorist.

Other disclosures include that DynCorp, a major government contractor, was the main contractor for the rendition flights; Dyncorp had not been previously linked to the program. It was also revealed that letters from the US State Department were used to provide diplomatic cover for the operations, as well as evidence that the letters were possibly not genuine, since an official that signed them does not seem to exist.

According to the files, Richmor, working with DynCorp, provided private jets and crews to the US government between May 2002 and January 2005, at a rate of about once a month. The planes were provided with State Department letters claiming their operations were "global support for U.S. embassies worldwide," and signed by a Terry A. Hogan, whom an Associated Press investigation failed to locate.

The rendition flights were operated by DynCorp, which used aircraft supplied by Richmor, while Sportsflight and another broker, Capital Aviation, handled the finances.