CIA rendition flights landed in Croatia: report

6th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 April 2006, ZAGREB/TIRANA - Croatia has confirmed that aircraft allegedly used by the US Central Intelligence Agency to transport abducted terrorism suspects landed in the country, while a "black prison" was reportedly uncovered in Albania, local newspapers said Thursday.

6 April 2006

ZAGREB/TIRANA - Croatia has confirmed that aircraft allegedly used by the US Central Intelligence Agency to transport abducted terrorism suspects landed in the country, while a "black prison" was reportedly uncovered in Albania, local newspapers said Thursday.

Croatian officials said a Boeing 737 said to have carried suspected terrorists did land several times at Dubrovnik, on the Adriatic coast, but could not confirm who was on board.

The aircraft most recently landed on April 23 last year, Dubrovnik airport chief executive Tonci Peovic said. That time it flew from Khartoum, in Sudan, to Manchester, England.

Human Rights Watch and other non-governmental organizations allege that CIA illegally transported suspected terrorist to covert detention centres in Europe and elsewhere following the 9-11 attacks.

Among them was German citizen Khaled al-Masri, erroneously abducted as an al-Qaeda member. The codes of the plane which landed at Dubrovnik matched those named in the reports.

"We checked the flight numbers and I can confirm ... one aircraft under the number landed once in April last year and several times under the other number," Peovic told the Jutarnji List daily.

He could however neither confirm nor deny allegations that al- Masri was on any of the flights.

According to allegations, al-Masri was abducted and illegally transported from Skopje, Macedonia, to Afghanistan on a flight landing at Dubrovnik.

Peovic said all the landings were "technical for refuelling." No passengers were declared and, in any case, the aircraft was in transit, with people on board technically never entering Croatia.

"There is no possibility that passengers mentioned in reports could have been processed by the Dubrovnik airport," he added.

Government spokesman Rastko Macek also confirmed, in a statement to Vecernji List, that the plane had landed, but said that the identity of those on board was not checked.

In Tirana, the daily Gazeta Shqiptare quoted another influential human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, as saying that covert flights also landed in Albania. AI also said one of the secret prisons maintained by the CIA in Europe was located in Albania.

Sources cited in the report were three Yemeni nationals who were said to have escaped a "black hole" centre. The report however did not reveal where the alleged prison was located in the country, or where the men escaped from.

The European Parliament has set up a committee to probe the alleged CIA involvement in the illegal detention and transport of prisoners in Europe between 2002 and 2005, in violation of basic human rights. It started hearing testimonies in February.

DPA

Subject: German news

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