Media Advisory: Citizens Will Tell Johnston County Commissioners:  Aero Contractors’ Role in Torture Larger Than Previously Known


For more information, contact:  Allyson Caison, 919-961-4130; Christina Cowger, 919-637-7678.

Citizens of Johnston and neighboring counties are putting local involvement in CIA torture and rendition back on the Commissioners agenda and demanding action. NC Stop Torture Now members will speak at the March 5 Johnston County Commissioners meeting, which begins at 6:00 pm in the Johnston County Courthouse in Smithfield, North Carolina.

Local citizens will bring new evidence that North Carolina played a larger role in the post-9/11 CIA kidnapping and torture program than previously presented to the Commissioners.  The information was revealed at the public hearings of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture in Raleigh on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 2017.

New evidence shows that Aero Contractors participated in the CIA “extraordinary renditions” of at least 49 individuals, including over a quarter of the 119 prisoners identified by the Senate Intelligence Committee as having been held in CIA black sites.  Aero Contractors is headquartered at the Johnston County Airport and is the largest tenant there.

Between 2002 and 2006, Aero also stationed a key rendition aircraft at the state-run Global TransPark in Kinston.  Staging from Smithfield and Kinston, Aero flew 80% of all CIA rendition missions between September 2001 and March 2004, with frequent visits to CIA black sites in eastern Europe and Afghanistan.

“Our government has so far failed to acknowledge and take responsibility for the kidnap and torture of dozens of human beings,” said Allyson Caison, NCSTN co-founder and resident of Selma, North Carolina.  “We won’t let them forget these abuses; they are a stain on our state and on Johnston County.”

The International Criminal Court is considering whether to open a formal investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan, including secret detention and torture at CIA black sites.  If it does, extraordinary renditions performed by Aero Contractors would likely be investigated; two of the 49 people, Sharqawi Al Hajj and Guled Hassan Duran, are among the victims whose cases are before the ICC as it considers whether to take up the investigation.

The Johnston Commissioners will be asked to support the findings and recommendations of the NCCIT, which is investigating North Carolina’s role in the rendition and torture program. “It is past time for acknowledgement and action,” said NCSTN member Chuck Fager. “We need moral leadership from the Johnston County Commissioners in light of this new evidence.”