Turkey ‘unaware’ as CIA ran operation out of Adana


 This file photo shows a US military aircraft on a base in the  southern city of Adana. Hürriyet photo
This file photo shows a US military aircraft on a base in the southern city of Adana. Hürriyet photo

In a tacit acknowledgment that a Turkish base was used to transport “terrorism” suspects as part of extralegal U.S. operations, a former senior Turkish diplomat has said Ankara was unaware of what the airplanes were transporting.
“Those flights [the secret transfers] entered Turkish airspace from another country and left to another country’s airspace. If Turkey gave permission for those flights to refuel, it was under a parliamentary motion given for transfer of logistics and personnel,” the diplomat, who held a high-ranking position in the Foreign Ministry at the time, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.
“As far as I can see, the CIA flights were among [the U.S. flights covered by that motion],” the diplomat said. However, I don’t remember the United States asking for permission for CIA flights.”

Citing a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, the German daily Die Welt reported Monday that Turkey had allowed the United States to use its ?ncirlik airport as a refueling stop for extraordinary rendition flights. The allegation was denied by the Turkish Foreign Ministry in 2006 in response to accusations made in an Amnesty International report.
“Those flights could have passed through Turkey, however, they could merely get fuel when they landed,” the former senior diplomat told the Daily News, highlighting three dimensions to the issue. “One is the fight against terrorism, second, human rights and the fight against torture, and third, international cooperation,” he said.
“We cooperate with the United States against terrorism, which also includes the struggle against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK,” he said, adding that Turkey never allowed torture to take place on its land.
Asked if the use of Turkish land for rendition flights could lead to negative legal outcomes, the diplomat said it would not. He also noted that the allegations of torture of “terrorism” suspects were revealed later, in late 2005 and 2006.
The U.S. used ?ncirlik airbase in southern Turkey as refueling stop for controversial flights, according to a cable dated June 8, 2006, and written by then-U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Ross Wilson. “The Turkish military has since 2002 allowed us to use ?ncirlik as a refueling stop for prisoner transport flights from ‘Operation Fundamental Justice,’ but revoked permission in February this year,” said the cable, referring to the extraordinary rendition program.
When Amnesty International released details of the U.S. system of extraordinary rendition in 2006, alleging that Turkey was used in the logistics of rendition flights, then-Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Nam?k Tan denied the allegations to reporters.
“The Turkish government and state never played a part [in the secret transfers] in any stage of this and never will,” Tan said. Asked if there was any possibility that ?ncirlik was used without the permission of Turkey, he said there was “no way” this could have happened.
“?ncirlik belongs to the Turkish Army. Any steps taken from there will be within the knowledge of state officials and military authorities,” he said.
Ahmet Ersin, an ?zmir deputy with the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, has asked the head of Parliament to take action, the Anatolia news agency reported Tuesday. According to Ersin, the ministers of foreign affairs during the relevant period, Abdullah Gül and Ali Babacan, had given “incorrect answers” regarding claims that al-Qaeda members were interrogated at ?ncirlik and at Sabiha Gökçen airport in Istanbul.
Ersin said he had been following the subject since 2005 and that Gül and Babacan had stated that the “claims did not reflect the truth.”


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