Madrid has quizzed US over CIA flights row
17 November 2005, MADRID — Washington has confirmed Spain has raised the issue of secret CIA flights supposedly carrying terrorist suspects through Spanish airports.
17 November 2005
MADRID — Washington has confirmed Spain has raised the issue of secret CIA flights supposedly carrying terrorist suspects through Spanish airports.
Assistant US Secretary of State Dan Fried said the topic had been discussed during a meeting in Madrid this week.
Earlier, Washington had denied Madrid had even mentioned the subject.
The Spanish government is investigating reports that the CIA made stops at a Spanish airport during flights transporting terrorist suspects.
In announcing the probe, Madrid said that if proven, such activity would be "extremely grave" and could affect bilateral relations.
Possible stops by up to 10 CIA-operated aircraft at the airport in Palma on the island of Majorca were reported by police earlier this year to the prosecutor's office of the Balearic Islands, local and international media have reported in recent days.
The stops date back to January of last year, according to the reports.
New reports in the Spanish daily El Pais claimed there had also been stopovers by CIA flights in Tenerife.
The planes may have been carrying suspected terrorists to detention centers in Eastern Europe reportedly used by the CIA to interrogate individuals accused of terrorist acts.
Members of the European Parliament have urged EU officials to investigate reports of US use of such centres.
The conservative administration that governed Spain for eight years before losing to the Socialists in March 2004 elections was one of Europe's strongest supporters of the Bush administration's invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The Socialist government of prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq the month after it took office, prompting a cooling of relations from Washington.
Spanish defence minister Jose Bono, appearing before a parliamentary budget panel in Madrid, said: "We do not have any proof, not even an indication, that illicit activities took place" involving U.S. intelligence agency flights, he said, adding that he had no desire "to encourage anti-US sentiment".
He described the United States as "a country that is a friend and an ally," saying "defending countries that are allies and friends is not only something I do gladly, but also is an obligation of the ministry of defence".
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news