by Shamindra Ferdinando
A top level investigation has revealed that Sri Lanka not only allowed the use of its only international airport at Katunayake for flights associated with US extraordinary rendition project but also handed over a terror suspect apprehended on its soil to US agents.
The then UNP-led UNF government had arrested the wanted foreign national following the US government making representations, in the wake of an international hunt for key al-Qaeda operatives. Sources said that the suspect’s nationality was yet not known.
Authoritative sources told The Island that the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga, in spite of being the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, hadn’t been informed of the UNF’s decision to facilitate the secret operation.
The inquiry got underway close on the heels of the New York-based Open Society Foundation (OSF) alleging that there had been no known judicial cases or investigations in Sri Lanka relating to its participation in CIA secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.” A report recently released by the OSF dealt primarily with human rights abuses associated with the CIA’s post-Sept. 2001 secret detention and extraordinary rendition operations.
Sources said that the Defence Ministry was still in the process of inquiring into OSF allegations in a bid to identify those who authorized the operation.
Sri Lanka got involved in the top secret CIA operation following the US advice that it revamp its armed forces as well as intelligence gathering operations.
Although 54 countries were involved in the operation, actual arrests were made by only some including Sri Lanka on behalf of the US.
The 54 countries that aided in post-9/11 renditions: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.