Rendition Mission: N982RK, 25-29 May 2004

N982RK, 25-29 May 2004

Rendition of Khaled el-Masri from secret prison in Afghanistan to Albania

Gulfstream III, operated by Richmor Aviation

Route: Washington DC – Shannon – Larnaca – Kabul – Kuçova – Sarajevo – Prague – Keflavik

 

The notorious case of Khaled el-Masri involves the mistaken imprisonment of a German citizen in a CIA black site for several months – apparently owing to a confusion over his name and identity.

Khaled el-Masri had been in a secret prison in Afghanistan since January 2004. While there, he was

detained in conditions that were inhuman and degrading, beaten by armed guards, subjected to violent and prolonged interrogations, force-fed following a 27-day hunger strike, and denied medical treatment. He was never charged, brought before a judge, granted access to German government representatives, or allowed to communicate with his family or anyone else in the outside world. He lost some thirty kilograms while in detention.
According to his case, recently heard by the European Court of Human Rights, when the CIA belatedly recognized their error, he was then transferred to Albania, a country with which he had no connection:

On May 28, 2004, El-Masri’s belongings were returned to him, including his passport, and he was flown on board a CIA-chartered Gulfstream aircraft with the tail number N982RK to a military airbase in Albania called Berat-Kuçova Aerodrome. On arrival he was driven in a car for several hours and then let out and told not to look back. Almost immediately he was arrested by the Albanian authorities and driven to Mother Theresa Airport near Tirana where he was put on a commercial flight to Frankfurt. When he arrived at his home in Ulm, Germany, he learned that his wife and children had relocated to Lebanon, not having heard from him for more than four months.
N982RK’s mission, otherwise known as “trip 53153”, was described in paperwork as a “govt trip“. The plane was operated by Richmor Aviation. Services for the trip were provided by Air Routing International, now part of Rockwell Collins. Overall contracting came under CSC’s contract number LT-050602 – the contract initially awarded to DynCorp in 2002.

For a rest stop prior to picking up el-Masri in Afghanistan, N982RK’s crew spent a night of rest and recuperation in the Golden Bay Beach Hotel, Cyprus. Here, they were invited to

Steal yourself away to a place of tranquility and beauty … where the sunshine is everlasting, and the sea a Mediterranean blue… to a smile as warm and welcoming as the sun itself. Surround yourself in a truly unique environment of exquisite flowers and cool waterscapes. Here your every request is granted with pleasure. Set in a location that gently unites land with sea. The Golden Bay Beach Hotel ranks among the most prestigious hotels on the island. This, coupled with service that is as discreet as it is attentive, makes this hotel the natural holiday choice. A place where visitors return time and time again to a warm welcome.
At Larnaca airport (LCLK) they were provided with VIP services, catering, and transport for crew and passengers to the hotel.

Data released by EuroControl to the European Parliament’s Justice and Civil Liberties Committee corresponds with the itinerary on the invoices. The plane left Dulles airport, paused at Shannon in Ireland (presumably for refuelling) and then stopped for a night and a day in Larnaca. It was then scheduled to leave Larnaca on the evening of May 27, make the pick-up in the early hours of May 28 in Kabul (OAKB), and the drop-off on the morning of May 28 in Kucova (LAKV), a small military airbase south of Tirana. It then proceeded immediately to a short stop in Sarajevo (LQSA) – presumably another fuel stop, since typically no other operations, such as refuelling, would be undertaken during pick-ups and drop-offs in order to keep bystanders away from the aircraft.

The crew and passengers then went to Prague (LKPR) for another rest and recuperation break, spending the night of 28-29 May there. They were provided with a van and hotel arrangements, although the name of the hotel is not noted. They were then scheduled to leave Prague at 09:07 the next day, returning to Dulles via Iceland (BIKF).