Secret CIA flights to face top-level court inquiry

Prosecutors from Spain’s National Court are seeking key witnesses in relation to alleged secret CIA flights in which dozens of Islamist prisoners were transported via Spain to Guantanamo Bay.

The National Court suspects that dozens of prisoners captured in Kandahar, Afghanistan by US forces were transported to Guantanamo via Spanish airports or using Spanish airspace between January 2002 and October 2006.

According to the Spanish daily El Pais, about 47 flights headed to or came from the US base at Guantanamo in Cuba and landed or flew over Spanish airports.

A document submitted to the court by the Spanish Airports and Air Navigation (AENA) authority, refers to eight flights in 2002, seven in 2003, twelve in 2004, nine in 2005, nine in 2006, and two in February 2007.

The National Court also wants to know why in 2002, just months after the deadly September 11 attacks against the twin towers, ex-premier Jose Maria Aznar and US president George W. Bush, updated a bilateral defence treaty, which had been in place in 1989.

The updated treaty made it more flexible for American planes to land at the US bases of Rota and Moron de la Frontera.

The court wants to know if these ‘more flexible’ terms were used to transfer the first 23 prisoners sent from the city of Kandahar in Afghanistan to Guantanamo.

Flight and airport officials as well as military and civilian air traffic controllers in the US bases located at Moron de la Frontera, Rota and Torrejon de Ardoz will be asked to give their testimony.

The flights took place under the leadership of former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar and the current prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

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