Last Updated Mon, 19 Dec 2005 12:46:07 EST
A Hercules aircraft owned by a Maryland firm alleged to be a front for the CIA landed in Gander, NL., last month, according to a Canadian Press report.
Records obtained by CP show the Hercules aircraft left Bob Sikes Airport in Florida and landed at Gander on Nov. 28. The next day, it headed to Prestwick Airport, near Glasgow, Scotland.
The aircraft is registered to Rapid Air Transport Inc. of Beltsville, Md., which is reportedly one of several shell companies controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Prestwick Airport has become the focus of British controversy as the stopover point for a Gulfstream jet used to transport al-Qaida suspects to prisons in Egypt and Jordan.
'Torture flights' protested
On Sunday, about 150 demonstrators protested at Prestwick and two other Scottish airports. Anti-war groups say 176 "torture flights" have landed in Scotland to refuel.
At least seven planes with CIA links have landed on Canadian soil in recent months, according to published reports.
The U.S. government has been roundly criticized by the international community after reports surfaced suggesting U.S. operatives flew terror suspects to be tortured in secret prisons outside the U.S.
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Gary Vey, president of the Gander International Airport Authority, told CP that the authority does not vet passenger lists of civilian aircraft.
"We wouldn't have any interest in who's on them," Vey told CP.
For decades, Gander has been a popular refuelling stop for military and civilian aircraft alike.
Amnesty International's Alex Neve wrote to Transport Minister Jean Lapierre last month to inquire about reports of possible CIA landings in Canada, but he says he has not yet received a reply.
"Obviously, we understand and recognize that there is an election campaign underway, but it is a pressing issue," said Neve, secretary general of Amnesty's Canadian chapter.
"I would hope and expect that it was something being given priority attention at high levels within government. And that as part of that, concerns and questions from Amnesty International would receive a quick and ready response."
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