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Viewing cable 07REYKJAVIK203, Icelandic MFA announces inquiry into alleged

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07REYKJAVIK203 2007-07-13 16:04 2011-01-13 05:05 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Reykjavik
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