Human rights group wants NC to probe alleged 'torture flights'
Posted January 19, 2012
Updated January 20, 2012
Smithfield, N.C. — North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.
North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.
"We would like the state to enact a public policy that recognizes that there is no place for extraordinary rendition in the state or in any of its political subdivisions," UNC law professor Deborah Weissman said. "We would like the state to take all actions to cease facilitating, in any way, shape or form, companies that are complacent in extraordinary rendition and torture."
The 67-page report says the so-called "rendition flights" by the company and its employees violate laws against torture by aiding and abetting.
It includes an affidavit from a Moroccan-born Italian who said that he was captured in 2002, had his clothes sliced off him, was dressed in a diaper and torn T-shirt and dragged aboard a small plane operated by Aero.
He was taken to Morocco, he said in the report, where he was interrogated for more than eight months and endured severe beatings and torture, including threats of having his genitals cut off.
The report also includes a similar account from a Yemeni man who said he was also blindfolded, dressed in a diaper and put on an Aero plane to Afghanistan. He said he was kept in a cold cell for three months, was deprived of sleep and was forced to listen to rap and Arabic music for 24 hours a day for a month.
For years, North Carolina Stop Torture Now, as well as lawmakers, has asked the state and attorney general to investigate the claims. In 2007, eight activists were arrested at the airport while trying to deliver "citizens' arrest" warrants for three pilots.
CBS's "60 Minutes" first reported about the flights six years ago, finding that terrorism suspects from around the world were transported to other countries and tortured. The TV news magazine said the flights began in North Carolina.
Aero Contractors has previously denied any involvement in the flights.