Problem

Extraterritorial abduction

Other Names:
Abduction by government agents acting in foreign countries
Extraordinary rendition
Nature:
Governments, notably the USA, tolerate the abduction by their agents of people in foreign countries that are required for interrogation or trial. In the case of the USA, the courts hold that a fugitive can stand trail even if the arrest overseas was improper.
Incidence:
The U.S. policy was codified in the late 1980s to allow U.S. law enforcement to apprehend wanted people in lawless states. It has become a key counterterrorism tool and has now expanded in scope to include the transfer of terrorism suspects by U.S. intelligence agents to the USA or to foreign countries for interrogation, and possibly torture prohibited inside U.S. borders. In 1989, the CIA director explained the new law would allow the agency to arrest suspects of the bombing of the airplane Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. In subsequent years, high-profile suspects "rendered" to the US have included Manuel Noriega, hijacker Fawaz Yunis and Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican doctor accused of helping torture and murder a Drug Enforcement Administration agent. Alvarez-Machain was later acquitted.

The head of the CIA testified to the 9-11 Commission in 2004 that prior to terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001, the U.S. had undertaken over 70 such renditions, adding that the Counterterrorist Center at the CIA had "many successes". One presumed "failure" was the retention of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who was flying home to Montreal in 2002, was detained by the US authorities at JFK Airport, and then escorted through Jordan to Syria, where he said he was tortured and kept in a grave-like cell for 10 months. Arar was finally cleared by a Syrian court and sent back to Canada, where he has not been charged with any crime.

The practice of rendition is thought to have increased dramatically since 9-11, and in addition to suspects being handed over to foreign countries, detainees have also been sent to U.S. bases overseas, like Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Tenet said rendition remains one of the principal strategies employed against the threat of international terrorism.

Broader Problems:
Kidnapping
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
06.04.2004 – 00:00 CEST