Spain to investigate 'secret CIA rendition flights'

15th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

15 November 2005, MADRID - Spain's secret service National Intelligence Centre (CNI) has asked the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) not to use Spanish airports for the transport of allegedly illegally detained Islamist terror suspects, the daily El Pais said Tuesday.

15 November 2005

MADRID - Spain's secret service National Intelligence Centre (CNI) has asked the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) not to use Spanish airports for the transport of allegedly illegally detained Islamist terror suspects, the daily El Pais said Tuesday.

The CNI made its request in the spring after suspicions arose that the CIA was using Palma de Mallorca airport for stopovers of planes carrying allegedly illegally detained or abducted prisoners to clandestine locations for interrogation.

The CIA did not officially acknowledge the flights, but "took note" of the Spanish position and of Spain's warning that any incident concerning the passengers of such planes could affect diplomatic relations, El Pais quoted government sources as saying.

The daily said the CNI "had no doubts" about the CIA's links with the private flights, which numbered 10 between January 2004 and January 2005.

The CNI declined to comment on the report.

Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso said Madrid was not aware of such flights, but if the reports about them were confirmed, they would constitute "intolerable" and "very serious facts" which could affect relations between Spain and the United States.

The paramilitary police Civil Guard launched an investigation following a judicial complaint by a group of citizens and reports by the daily Diario de Mallorca.

The planes in question were identified as two Boeing 737s and two Gulfstream jets. Three of them belonged to Stevens Express Leasing, a company which has been linked to the CIA.

The planes were described as similar to those used by the CIA for the transport of terrorist suspects. Police identified the passengers, most of whom had a diplomatic status.

One of the flights reportedly left from Algeria, made a stopover in Palma de Mallorca, flew to Macedonia to pick up German citizen Khaled al-Masri and took him to Afghanistan.

Al-Masri, who was released later in Albania, said he had been beaten and questioned about his possible ties to al-Qaeda.

Spanish reports said Germany had requested information from Spain about the case. Italy has requested the extradition of purported CIA agents allegedly involved in the kidnapping of a terrorist suspect in Milan in 2003.

Most of the planes making stopovers in Majorca came from Libya, but others flew to or from Algiers, Casablanca, Baghdad, Kabul or Romania, according to the daily ABC.

Human rights groups say detained or abducted terrorist suspects are taken for interrogation to places where U.S. rules on torture do not apply.

The Balearics judiciary has handed the case over to Madrid's National Court.

DPA

Subject: German news

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