What was Aero Contractor's alleged role in interrogations involving torture?
Investigations led by European governments and media outlets and testimony from eyewitnesses have revealed that two planes, a Boeing Business Jet and a Gulfstream V executive jet, had made a base at Aero Contractors Ltd. in Smithfield. The planes frequently flew from Johnston County to Dulles International Airport outside Washington.
The planes would then cross the Atlantic to countries such as Sweden, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Spain and then head to other countries, including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Morocco, Jordan and Iraq, where harsh tactics were sometimes used to extract information from prisoners, the investigators said.
Some detainees, later released, said interrogators had subjected them to electric shock, malnourishment or other forms of torture.
Aero Contractors no longer leases those planes and has refused to comment on its operations.
Spain, Sweden, Germany and Italy are investigating the use of their airports in the CIA's transfer of suspects to countries such as Egypt and Afghanistan.
A group based in St. Louis, Stop Torture Now, organized the protest. Members of the N.C. Council of Churches and local anti-war groups joined in.
Allyson Caison, 45, a resident of Selma and protest participant, said it was a timely issue to be discussing as lawmakers consider legislation to limit torture. "We need to raise awareness of what's going on in my back yard," she said.
The event was planned to coincide with another protest this weekend at the School of the Americas, a military training school in Fort Benning, Ga., where 15,000 are expected to protest.