Turkey allowed the US to use its airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey as part of the “extraordinary rendition” programme to take suspected terrorists to Guantánamo Bay, according to a US diplomatic cable.
Turkey’s involvement in the controversial programme was revealed in a cable dated 8 June 2006, written by the then US ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson. The cable described Turkey as a crucial ally in the “global war on terror” and an important logistical base for the US-led war in Iraq.
“The Turkish military had allowed us to use Incirlik as a refuelling stop for Operation Fundamental Justice detainee movement operations since 2002, but revoked this permission in February of this year. We understand OSD [office of the secretary of defence] and JCS [joint chiefs of staff] have been discussing whether to approach Turkey to seek to reverse this decision,” the cable said.
“We recommend that you do not raise this issue with TGS [Turkish general staff] pending clarification from Washington on what approach state/OSD/JCS/NSC [national security council] wish to take.”
The cable contradicts statements made at the time by Turkish officials. On 14 June 2006, a spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry told reporters: “The Turkish government and state never played a part [in the secret transfers] … and never will.”
Turkey had just been named in a Council of Europe report among 14 European countries that colluded in or tolerated the covert transporting of prisoners.