Rendition: How 54 nations – and 'Axis of Evil' – cooperated with CIA in wake of 9/11

New report reveals how a quarter of the world's countries assisted US in covert terror operations

More than a quarter of the world’s countries provided covert assistance to the United States in its extraordinary rendition programme in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001, including some branded by Washington at the time as members of the ‘Axis of Evil’, a human rights group has claimed.

Releasing the most comprehensive independent report yet into the programme, which saw terror suspects spirited to secret prisons around the globe without legal process, interrogated and sometimes tortured, the New York-based Open Society Foundation said no fewer than 54 countries participated to varying degrees. Twenty five – including Britain – were in Europe, 14 in Asia and 13 in Africa. Australia and Canada assisted too.

The 216-page report will reignite the rendition controversy, including in some countries where their participation had hitherto not been well advertised. Also, it comes on the eve of confirmation hearings tomorrow for John Brennan, nominee for CIA director. His own proximity to renditions while at the CIA during the administration of President George W Bush is certain to come under scrutiny.

Laid bare by the report, which is entitled ‘Globalising Torture’, is the sheer scope of the programme. The group identifies 136 individuals who were targeted in extraordinary rendition operations, a longer list than seen previously, and attempts to describe the experience of each of them. They include Sami al-Saadi who was rendered to Libya with help from the British authorities.  Britain, the report says, also gave access to air space and airports and provided intelligence.

“By engaging in torture and other abuses associated with secret detention and extraordinary rendition, the US government violated domestic and international law, thereby diminishing its moral standing and eroding support for its counterterrorism efforts worldwide as these abuses came to light,” lead author Amrit Singh wrote. But she added: “The moral cost of these programs was borne not just by the US but by the 54 other countries it recruited to help.”

As America denounced avowed enemies it meanwhile gladly accepted help from them, the report reveals. They included Syria and Iran, both identified by the Bush administrations as members of the ‘Axis of Evil’. The latter handed 15 suspects to Kabul shortly after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Syria, meanwhile, ended up being one of the “most common destinations for rendered suspects”, the report asserts, an indication that ties between Washington and the regime of Bashar al-Assad were once tight. It was to a secret prison in Syria, for example, that the Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar was sent. He was held for a year and tortured. 

The report provided further proof that the US “cooperated with dictatorial regimes that they condemned publicly but cooperated with clandestinely,” Mr Arar told the Huffington Post.

Other countries cited as hosts to clandestine prisons include Poland, Lithuania and Romania. Other states said to have assisted include Ireland, Iceland and Cyprus. They allegedly offered airspace and airport facilities for aircraft used for the renditions.  Some, meanwhile, will note those countries not identified in the report. They include such staunch allies of the US as France, Israel and Norway.

Debate about torture has been reignited by the film Zero Dark Thirty which implied that it helped lead the US to Osama Bin Laden. President Barack Obama denounced torture when he took office but declined to open an independent investigation into past detention and interrogation activities. A 6,000-page study was recently completed for the Senate Intelligence Committee. It has not been made public.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvSpoiler alert: It has been talked about for months
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - West Midlands - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Area Manager - Yorkshire & Humber - OTE £35,000

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Area Manager is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?