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article imageN977GA was waiting to render Snowden back to the U.S.

By Ken Hanly     Jun 15, 2014 in Politics
Washington - The unmarked Gulfstream V business jet with the tail number N977GA had previously been used by the CIA in the notorious rendition flights in which terror suspects were taken to secret "black" prison sites.
A recent article in the Register outlines the history of the plane: N977GA has a chequered history. It was originally ordered by the US Air Force for use as a general's flying gin-palace. But then, shortly after 9/11, it lost its military livery and acquired civilian registration as N596GA. Under that designation it was employed in CIA "renditions" - or kidnappings. In 2011, the "black" jet switched roles again, transferring from the CIA's contractor to use instead by the Department of Justice (DoJ).
When transferred to the DOJ it was re-branded with tail number N977GA. Just as Snowden arrived in Moscow on June 24, 2013 intending to fly on to Cuba, on the same evening the DOJ plane took off from a commercial airport just 30 miles from the capital, Washington. Manassas regional airport claims to discreetly offer "the personal accommodations and amenities you can't find at commercial airports." The next morning the DOJ plane was detected by an internet aircraft tracking group in the UK. The plane was heading east over Scotland at a high altitude of 45,000 feet. The plane had not filed a flight plan. It was also flying at a height that did not require reporting to air traffic control.
A member of the group said that their source said: "The plane showed up on our system at 5:20 on 25 June, We knew the reputation of this aircraft and what it had done in the past." Further tracking showed the plane did not travel all the way to Moscow but landed at Copenhagen Airport. The U.S. was trying desperately to get the Russian government to give Snowden up to US authorities. As a National Security Council spokesperson told reporters: "We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr Snowden back to the US to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged." The Russians refused to budge. However, the US was also putting pressure on countries not to let Snowden in or provide him with refuge. There were even arrangements to have countries not allow any plane that might have Snowden aboard fly through their territory.
France and Portugal refused to let a plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales from Moscow back to Bolivia transit their air space forcing the plane to land in Austria where it was searched. Snowden was not on board.
Snowden is viewed as a whistleblower and hero by some and by others as a traitor who violated his agreement to keep classified material secret. Snowden himself claims that the agreement to keep material secret was a civil contract and that his overriding fealty was to the US constitution: “The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy. That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.”
More about CIA Rendition flights, snowden in russia, edward snowden
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