Madrid to keep close eye on future US flights

1st December 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 December 2005, MADRID — The government is to maintain a "vigilant attitude" toward refuelling stops by US government aircraft suspected of transporting abducted terror suspects to clandestine detention centres.

1 December 2005

MADRID — The government is to maintain a "vigilant attitude" toward refuelling stops by US government aircraft suspected of transporting abducted terror suspects to clandestine detention centres.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told Parliament is suspicions  about the flights are confirmed, Madrid will take steps to address the issue in conjunction with its partners in the European Union.

At the same time, he asked for "prudence" in the matter, saying the claim that CIA-controlled flights made stops at airports in Spain's Balearic and Canary Islands  while carrying secret prisoners "has not been verified".

The prime minister was responding to a parliamentary question from United Left leader Gaspar Llamazares, whose party generally supports Zapatero's Socialist government but is not formally allied with it.

Llamazares asked why the administration did not take the kind of forthright stand adopted by Germany, which said it would not tolerate any such activity on its territory.

Zapatero said Spain has already joined the 24 other EU nations in formally requesting explanations from Washington, an initiative spearheaded by Britain as the current occupant of the rotating presidency of the European bloc.

Last week, Spain's foreign minister said no laws were violated in the stops US government aircraft made at Spanish airports, but did not specifically address claims that some of those flights carried terror suspects en route to secret CIA detention facilities.

Spain "has the conviction, founded on the outcome of its investigation, that all stops made within the framework of the defence cooperation agreement in existence between Spain and the United States, as well as the stops made by civilian planes for other than refuelling purposes, were conducted according to law," Miguel Angel Moratinos said in Parliament.

Moratinos nevertheless announced more controls would be implemented to verify the nature of future stops, after the Spanish press reported that on several occasions the CIA transported terrorism suspects on such flights.

The most recent government comments on the flights contrasted with early official reaction to published reports of the stopovers.

On 15 November, interior minister Jose Antonio Alonso told Spain's Tele 5 television that if the allegations were proven, "we would be dealing with extremely grave acts, acts that are intolerable in any case because they break the rules for treatment of detainees in a democratic system".

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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