Spain stresses legality of US flights to Guantanamo
Spain government says while US has continued to using Spanish territory for flights to Guantanamo, the planes do not carry prisoners.29 May 2008
MADRID - The Spanish government Wednesday admitted that the United States has continued using Spanish territory for flights to its military base in Guantanamo, Cuba, but denied that the planes carried prisoners.
Reacting to media reports, the government admitted that two US planes took off from the naval base at Rota near Cadiz, which is under joint Spanish-US use, for Guantanamo in June and September 2007.
The planes carried personnel of the US Defence Department, troops and military material, the Spanish Foreign Ministry said in a communique.
The flights were not organised by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), but by the US army, the communique added, stressing their legality.
The information about the flights was initially disclosed by the Portuguese government, which has admitted that 56 CIA flights used Portuguese airspace between 2005 and 2007.
The Spanish judiciary is also investigating the possible use of Spanish airports for the transport of alleged terrorists to Guantanamo between 2002 and 2007.
"The government has systematically checked any information" on US military flights from Spain, and there was no evidence of anything illegal, said Socialist parliamentary spokesman Jose Antonio Alonso, who was defence minister until March.
Spain's bilateral defence agreement with the US prohibits flights that could be "controversial" for Spain.
The CIA has been suspected of using European airports for secretly taking prisoners to Guantanamo and other detention centres.
[dpa / Expatica]