Update:Eurocontrol suggests asking governments to get it to release flight data


23 December 2011 – In response to Access Info’s ongoing investigation into illegal “war on terror” rendition flights, the Director General of the European air traffic management body Eurocontrol, has written to Access Info researcher Lydia Medland stressing its readiness to release the data it holds if asked to do so by if Member States and that it does “try to be as transparent as possible.”

Access Info and human rights group Reprieve recently criticised Eurocontrol for its refusal to release the data it holds about specific flights to the public (read more here).

In the 16 December 2011 letter, Eurocontrol’s Director General David McMillan notes that the agreements by which it receives air traffic data prevent it from providing that information to the public, but that “we have, since 2006, provided data on specific flights hat have been investigated as ‘rendition flights’

[to Member States]. We would, of course, be happy to do so again, if requested by our Member States.

Letter from Eurocontrol

Response from Access Info

Eurocontrol also notes that it has recently provided information to Mr Thomas Hammarberg, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, on the authorisation of its Member States.

Unaccountable European Aviation Agency Covers Up Rendition Information

CIA_flights_pic2 December 2011 – International aviation organisation Eurocontrol is refusing release crucial evidence relating to the CIA’s illegal renditions programme, despite formal requests to do so by legal action charity Reprieve and pro-transparency group Access Info Europe.

Eurocontrol is made up of 39 European states which fund its half billion euro budget; 34 of these are bound by national access to information laws.  Eurocontrol, however, appears to consider itself above the laws which apply to its members when it comes to disclosure of information, even when it relates to serious criminal acts such as the secret renditions programme.

Reprieve and Access Info Europe wrote on 30 November 2011 to the Director General of Eurocontrol, asking him to reconsider its denial of access to flight planning information vital to renditions accountability investigations.

In the past, Eurocontrol has made a significant positive contribution to the struggle for renditions accountability, disclosing portions of its records to the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and to the Danish parliament. Thanks to these disclosures, flight logs for dozens of planes, contracted by the CIA to perform sometimes illegal missions, have become available.

This good track record is now at risk if Eurocontrol continues, with no legal basis, to deny access to records for another 54 planes. These planes were unidentified at the time earlier requests were made, and represent new insights into the renditions programme, particularly in its later stages.

Reprieve investigator Crofton Black said: “Eurocontrol may pay lip service to transparency, but in reality it is now covering up crucial evidence on the CIA rendition programme. It has the necessary information and it is able to disclose it. Will it step up and do the right thing? The clock is ticking.”

Access Info Europe’s campaign coordinator Lydia Medland said: “Consistent with European and International human rights law, Eurocontrol should now make a review of the information that they hold, and consider the public interest in this case.”

The letter can be downloaded here, file_pdf file_doc odf2odt-16x16