I was once under the impression that there was no earthly way that I could respect the courage and the independent spirit of the Icelandic people more than I already do. That was until a report emerged recently that the FBI flew into Iceland in 2011 to conduct an investigation connected to the Wikileaks affair but were told by the Minister of the Interior to get back on the plane and go home.
It is inspiring to see yet another example how this brave and sovereign nation refuses to be bullied by the powers that be. It stands in stark contrast to some of the more spineless and malleable "governments" of comparable "States".“According to my information, he demanded that these agents pack their bags, embark the plane and leave the country,” Kristinn added. “I know that this was later discussed within the government, which formally objected to U.S. authorities.”
Ögmundur confirmed Kristinn’s statement to RÚV, saying a group of foreign agents came to the country in August 2011, requesting assistance to investigate a certain affair. Their request was rejected as it is unnatural for foreign police forces to carry out investigations in Iceland, the minister reasoned.
They have form in this regard, and I am not talking about financial matters either. When it emerged that the US government had been repeatedly using Iceland as a stop on the extraordinary rendition circuit without even so much as asking for permission, their response was equally robust.
Admirable sentiments. Let's see if we were as robust. Julian Assange's purloined cables have helpfully shed some light on the matter:Stöd 2 reports that Icelandic leaders "did not know a thing" about flights landing in Iceland. Prime minister Halldór Ásgrímsson said that, to his knowledge, the matter has not been taken up within the Icelandic government.
He said that it is ridiculous, and there is reason to condemn, [if proven true], actions such as prisoners being moved between countries in order to torture them for information. Halldór said no one could defend such conduct. He said, if it was the case [that prisoners were being moved through Iceland for torture in other countries] it was crystal clear that, like other European nations, the Icelandic government would not want to participate in any way, shape or form.
MP Helgi Hjörvar sent the Icelandic Ministry of Justice a letter requesting an official police investigation of the flights of the airplanes through Icelandic airspace. Helgi wants to know who was transported, when, from where, and their fate at the ultimate destination. Helgi also wants to know who is responsible for the flights; he wants to have them arrested if they come to Iceland again.
2011-01-20 Cablegate, Ireland, and extraordinary rendition | WL Central
Wow, what a heavy hitting defender of human rights. Thank God we had a viogorous opposition at the time- lion-hearted defenders of justice and virtue who would never compromise.07DUBLIN916:
Ambassador Foley thanked Ahern for his staunch rejection of the Irish Human Rights Commission's (IHRC) demand that the Irish Government inspect aircraft landing in Ireland that are alleged to have been involved in so-called extraordinary rendition flights (Ref B)...Ahern noted that he had "put his neck on the chopping block" and would pay a severe political price if it ever turned out that rendition flights had entered Ireland or if one was discovered in the future. He stated that he "could use a little more information" about the flights, musing that it might not be a bad idea to allow the random inspection of a few planes to proceed, which would provide cover if a rendition flight ever surfaced. He seemed quite convinced that at least three flights involving renditions had refueled at Shannon Airport before or after conducting renditions elsewhere... While Ahern's public stance on extraordinary renditions is rock-solid, his musings during the meeting seemed less assured. This was the only issue during the meeting that agitated him; he spent considerable time dwelling on it. Ahern seemed to be fishing for renewed assurances from the ambassador that no rendition flights have transited Ireland, or would transit in the future.
Extraordinary Rendition is an attack on human rights » Labour Blog » The Labour Party Gilmore was very clear:Exactly, Eamonn. I knew we could count on you to do the right thing in Opposition. Though the story did seem to change somewhat when he was in office. Apparently back in 2007, he wanted to government to inspect the flights, but by 2011 and in spite of the fact that there is now actual evidence that Shannon was used for extraordinary rendition, he was of the opinion that there was no such need."Why has the Govt not compiled with the request from the Human Rights Commission to inspect the aircraft through Shannon?
Gilmore accepts US assurance of no rendition flights through Shannon
It is not the first time that I have looked at Iceland, looked and Ireland, and felt something close to despair. But in any case, kudos to Iceland. It is nice to see at least one small state with the courage of its convictions and respect for its own sovereignty and its own laws.In a reply to a series of parliamentary questions from Tuffy, Gilmore said the US had offered an assurance “that no such prisoners had been transferred through Irish territory, nor would they be without our express permission”.
“The Government has no reason to call into question the value of the assurances received at a high level from the US authorities in this matter,” Gilmore said.
Tuffy’s questions had followed the emergence of a legal dispute between two companies in New York, both of them sub-contracted to provide flight services on behalf of the US government and its Air Force.
One of the companies is suing the other for over €600,000, which has already been awarded by the State Supreme Court, in unpaid costs for rendition flights which it claims includes services through Shannon.
“None of the various investigations into allegations of extraordinary rendition, including those carried out by the Council of Europe, have revealed any evidence that rendition through Irish airports has occurred,” Gilmore said.