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Viewing cable 07REYKJAVIK313, Icelandic MFA "confirms" CIA detainee flights through

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
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