Aero Contractors (United States)

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Aero Contractors Ltd., a private charter company based in Smithfield, North Carolina, is said to provide discreet air transport services for the Central Intelligence Agency.[citation needed]

The company was founded in 1979 by Jim Rhyne, a former pilot with Air America. The company has 26 planes and 79 employees and operates from the tiny Johnston County Airport.[citation needed]

On May 31, 2005, the New York Times reported that the company was heavily involved in extraordinary rendition, the transport of terrorism suspects to countries where they can be interrogated to extract information. An Aero Contractors plane was used in the transport of Khalid El-Masri, a German citizen who was pulled from a bus on the Serbia-Macedonia border and held for three weeks. He was drugged and beaten before being flown to Afghanistan on a Boeing Business Jet operated by Aero Contractors. El-Masri was released after five months.[1]

Aero Corporations allegedly operates under several different shell companies, including Stevens Express Leasing, Inc., Premier Executive Transport Services, Aviation Specialties, Inc., and Devon Holding and Leasing, Inc. [2]

A book published in September 2006, Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA Rendition Flights [3] includes many details about Aero Contractors' involvement in extraordinary rendition.

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Portions of this article were taken from "Aero Contractors Ltd.", at SourceWatch, a wikiproject of the Center for Media & Democracy which is licensed under the GFDL. The list of original authors and the article's edit history can be viewed here.